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Simple assault vs. aggravated assault in South Dakota

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Blog, Violent Crimes |

Unfortunately, a disagreement or misunderstanding can rapidly escalate into a physical altercation. Such a situation could lead to accusations of assault.

However, not all assault charges are equal. South Dakota classifies this alleged offense into two categories: simple and aggravated assault. Knowing the difference is important because each carries different consequences.

How South Dakota defines and charges simple assault

In South Dakota, simple assault refers to actions that do not necessarily cause serious bodily injury but are still harmful or threatening. These include trying to hurt or intimidate someone.

Therefore, verbal threats or aggressive behavior can lead to simple assault charges if they create fear or put someone in danger. When injuries do occur, their severity determines if the charge remains a simple assault. Minor injuries typically only qualify for simple assault charges.

Simple assault can also involve the negligent use of a dangerous weapon. Even if the injury was unintentional, causing bodily harm to someone else can merit simple assault charges.

A first offense of simple assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction can bring a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail. After a third simple assault offense, the state can raise the charges to a Class 6 felony. While this is the lowest class of felony, it can lead to a maximum $4,000 fine and up to two years in prison.

Repeated instances of simple assault can result in more serious charges. This is especially true if the behavior continues despite prior warnings or penalties.

Aggravated assault in South Dakota

Aggravated assault is a more serious offense that involves any of the following elements:

  • Intentionally causing serious bodily harm to another person
  • Using a weapon to threaten or harm someone
  • Showing extreme disregard for others’ safety and well-being

Choking someone else or using some other method to cut off oxygen or blood flow could also be aggravated assault, particularly if this act scares the individual.

Aggravated assault charges are a Class 3 felony. This can lead to 15 years of imprisonment in a state correctional facility and an additional fine of up to $30,000.

The drastic differences between simple and aggravated assault show why it is important to understand the two charges. Establishing the facts of an incident and the surrounding circumstances can help a person craft a stronger defense to avoid the possibility of harsh penalties.