Butte County Courthouse
Corson County Courthouse
Dewey County Courthouse
Harding County Courthouse
Lawrence County Courthouse
Meade County Courthouse
Perkins County Courthouse
Ziebach County Courthouse

Frequently Asked Questions

How much will my fine be?

The maximum fine amounts are established by the legislature, and judges use their discretion and call upon their experience to determine what the exact amount should be. Fines for some of the more common offenses (for example, speeding or failing to stop at a stop sign) have standard amounts, and the clerk of courts can tell you about those. For some offenses, it is entirely up to the judge, within the limits set by the legislature, to decide.

How can I pay my fine/costs/restitution?

1) You can pay in person with cash, money order, check or credit card at the Clerk of Courts.
2) You can mail your check or money order to the Clerk of Courts.
3) You can pay online. Click here
*The Clerk of Courts may not process your credit card payment by phone.
*For mailing addresses for the Clerk of Courts, please see the Information Search tool in the left margin.

How much will my license tags cost this year?

License plate renewals and registrations are not processed by the courts. You should contact your local county Treasurer’s office with this question.

Can you give me a copy of my birth/death certificate?

No, we do not maintain these records. Contact your local county Register of Deeds office or order them from the SD Department of Health for Vital Records

What do I need to get a judgment against a person?

Getting a judgment and collecting money owed to you are not quite the same things. To get a judgment, you must have a judge agree that your claim is valid and timely, and then enter a court order (judgment) against the person who owes you. Once a judgment is filed, it is good either until all the money is collected, or for 10 years, unless it is renewed for another 10 years. There are different methods available for collecting on a judgment. You should seek an attorney’s advice about the best way for you to proceed, which will depend on the circumstances of your case.

What should I do to get a divorce?

South Dakota does have fill-in-the-blank forms to use in filing your own divorce case in court. These forms can be obtained from any Clerk of Court office or on-line at However, consultation with an attorney is strongly recommended before filing any documents with the court. There are various factors that need to be considered and you may be mistaken about the law regarding marital assets, support or custody/visitation. Agreements to child custody/support and the allocation of property/debt could have serious long-term consequences for both parties. An attorney can advise you of the options available to you and the possible consequences of any choice you might make.

Can I get an extension to pay my fines?

All fines and fees are due the date of the court hearing when the judge sets the amount owed, whether you appear in person or send your money in the mail and plead guilty on a traffic violation. Sometimes a judge may allow an extension, depending on the circumstances of your case, but you should be prepared to make payment at the time of sentencing. All requests for an extension must be agreed to by the judge.

Now that I have a judgment, when do I get my money?

It depends. See the answer above about how to get a judgment. The facts of your case usually will affect when you get paid. Some defendants (debtors) are able to and do pay right away. Others make arrangements to pay you over time. Some situations may require you to enforce the judgment by other legal means. An attorney is best able to advise you on the options that fit your circumstances.

How do I garnish wages to collect my judgment?

Garnishment actions are usually handled by an attorney without a lawsuit, unless objections are filed by the person owing the money.

What do I need to get a marriage license?

Marriage licenses are issued by the local county Register of Deeds office, not by the courts. You should contact them with specific questions. At a minimum, you should be prepared to provide identification and pay a fee, but they can inform you about the age and consent requirements and whatever else may be needed. We can tell you that once a license is issued, the wedding must take place within 20 days or the license becomes void. The clerk of courts office can perform civil wedding ceremonies. See our Procedures section for information.

What is the number for Driver Improvement?

1-800-952-3696 in South Dakota.

How do I file a small claims suit?

This is one of two actions you can file by completing a form at the Clerk’s office. (The other is for a Protection Order.) You will need to pay a fee, the amount of which depends on your claim. By law, your claim cannot exceed $12,000 to qualify for the small claims division; if it is more than $12,000, you must file a regular civil action in circuit court. You will also need to provide information about the defendant (or also known as the debtor), such as name, and address. It may be important to know the age of the defendant as well, depending on the nature of your claim, or who the “agent for process” is if the defendant is a corporation. (You can find that out from the Secretary of State.) And you should provide any written evidence you may have that supports your claim. This could be a receipt, letter, contract, photographs or any other proof that you think will help the judge decide the case. See our Procedures tab for more information about Preparing for Small Claims Court.

Can I talk with a judge directly or write a letter?

All contact outside of the courtroom with a judge regarding any matters related to court cases (pending or not) should occur through your attorney. This ensures that the proper rules and laws are followed regarding communications with a judge and notice to the other parties in a case. If you are not represented by an attorney, your best option is to write a letter to the judge, in care of the Clerk of Courts office for the county where your case is pending, with a copy to all other parties. This will help keep the judge from having one-sided communication (called ex parte) or creating a conflict of interest for the judge by having access to information that may not be appropriate.

How do I get copies of documents from court files?

Contact the Clerk of Courts office for the county where the case is filed, they are the keepers of all case files for their county. If you don't have the case number, they can look it up. There may be a fee to search court records to find the particular case or name you want. There is a fee for copies; that fee depends on whether you want a regular copy or some kind of special copy (such as certified or authenticated). There are some court files that are not available to the public, like juvenile files, sealed files, adoptions, etc. Please contact the Clerk for details.

How do I find an attorney to handle my case?

You can get a reference from a friend, or use the business listings in the phone book, or you might check with the Lawyer Referral Help Line of the State Bar of South Dakota in Pierre. That number is 1-800-952-2333, and their web site is Martindale-Hubbell also has lists of lawyers, together with rating by their peers. If you can’t afford one, in some civil matters income eligible people may contact Access to Justice at 1-855-287-3510, Dakota Plains Legal Services and 1-800-658-2297 for assistance with their case. In order to remain neutral, neither the Clerk nor the Judge can recommend an individual attorney to help you. In some criminal cases, you may apply for Court Appointed Counsel, which is subject to approval by the Court and then subject to repayment to the County, regardless of the outcome of the case.

What if I have a complaint about my attorney?

It depends on the nature of your complaint and whether the attorney was chosen by you or appointed by the court. Discussing your concerns with the attorney may resolve your issues. Other options might include a notification to the judge assigned to your case, or filing an official complaint with the Supreme Court, which oversees discipline of members of the South Dakota Bar, or contacting the State Bar. Complaints lodged with the State Bar must be in writing, per Supreme Court Rule. Their mailing address is 222 E. Capitol Avenue #3, Pierre, SD 57501.

Can I fax documents to the court?

Fax filings are allowed, for a fee, but must be followed up by mailing the original document. Contact the Clerk of Courts office where your case is pending for specific information.

How do I get a hearing before a judge? (Or how do I get a hearing date changed?)

Your attorney will arrange for the necessary hearings. However, if you are not represented by an attorney, you should contact the Clerk of Courts office where you case is pending. The clerk will be able to tell you if those arrangements can be made through that office, or if the judge will need to be consulted. The answer will depend on the kind of case you have, the nature of hearing requested, how much time might be needed, and availability of the judge.

How do I get a transcript of a court hearing?

Transcripts are prepared by the official court reporter who originally attended the court hearing, with the exception of a grand jury transcript or a digital recording. The Clerk of Courts office can tell you who the reporter is and how to contact that person. When you contact the court reporter to request the transcript, they will need to know the case number and the date and time of the hearing. After they have located the hearing in their records, they will then prepare a quote on what the transcript will cost to produce based on number of pages and give you an idea of when they can have it ready. Once you have paid, they will prepare the transcript for you. In some cases, like grand jury proceedings, a CD of the audio from the hearing may be available for a fee instead of the transcript. If your case was digitally recorded, or the Court Reporter has retired, please contact Court Administration at (605) 347-0017 and they can assist you.

How do I get a passport?

Passports are issued by the United States Department of State, for information on passports you can go to

Here are the Passport Acceptance Facilities each of our counties:
BUTTE-Spearfish Post Office
CORSON-Clerk of Court
DEWEY-Clerk of Court
HARDING-Clerk of Court
LAWRENCE-Spearfish Post Office
MEADE-Sturgis Post Office
PERKINS-Harding County Clerk of Court or Hettinger
ZIEBACH-Dewey County Clerk of Courts

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