South Dakota Legal Resources

Overview of the South Dakota Court System

Similar to the court systems in many other states, the South Dakota court system consists of three different sets of courts organized in a three-tier structure. Depending on the severity of any particular case it will go through one of the bottom tiers while the topmost tier is reserved for appeals and administrative issues.

The bottom-tier courts are known as the magistrate courts, and they are mainly used for small claims, civil cases and preliminary criminal hearings. These courts also oversee real estate law cases.

The second-tier courts are known as the district courts, and they give original jurisdiction on a wide range of legal matters including large civil cases, criminal cases, domestic relations, juvenile issues and traffic infractions. The district courts also handle estate and probate cases as well as appeals from the magistrate courts.

Appeals of decisions made in the district courts go straight to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which is the court of last resort in the state. Decisions handed down from the Supreme Court are final for the state. This court also handles administrative matters such as bar admissions and court disciplinary procedures.

South Dakota Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated South Dakota attorney by location and by practice area. We have South Dakota attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

South Dakota Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free South Dakota legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

You can find South Dakota Residential Lease Agreement for free on LawInfo. These forms are vital if you plan on renting property to a tenant. While property rental is usually a good financial decision, you need to make sure that you have your legal details spelled out in a binding contract so your assets are protected. A Residential Lease Form can be that binding contract.

You may also find free Last Will and Testament documents on LawInfo. Filing a will protects against dying "intestate," or without a document specifying what will happen to your estate. With a last will, you can choose who gets what, allowing you to pass on valuable heirlooms and assets to family and friends of your choosing. If you die intestate, the probate court will make those decisions.

Finally, Power of Attorney forms are available free on LawInfo as well. A POA specifies who will have the authority to make legal, medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are ever incapacitated. This will ensure that your wishes regarding health care and other sensitive matters will always be followed even if you are not able to request them for yourself.

Starting a South Dakota Business

Starting a business in South Dakota may seem like a daunting task, but it can be exciting as well. In order to make sure that you start out on the right foot, the first step is figuring out your general business plan. You can find important references and resources at the South Dakota Small Business Development Center to help with everything from finding funding to researching your market.

Once you've taken this step, the next step is to figure out what to name your business. Look up your chosen name with the Chamber of Commerce to see if it's taken; if not, move forward! You will need to choose what type of company you want to start. You can go a more corporate route and file documents of incorporation in South Dakota. While you may need to pay more taxes, your personal assets will be more protected in the event of failure. On the other hand, if you want fewer taxes and regulations, a sole proprietorship or partnership may be a better idea.

South Dakota Business Statistics

South Dakota is well-suited for starting a small business. Fully 61.9 percent of the private-sector workforce is employed by small businesses, amounting to over 200,000 workers. The economy of the state grew by 5.0 percent in 2011, nearly double the growth of the U.S. economy in the same period. At the same time, unemployment hovered at a low 4 percent, one of the lowest in the country.

While South Dakota saw a booming small business economy, there weren't as many large businesses, with only 750 employers with more than 500 employees each in the state. No Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in South Dakota.