Victims of Hate Crimes in South Dakota Also Deserve Rights

What is a hate crime? According to the law, it’s defined as:

22-19B-1. Malicious intimidation or harassment–Felony. No person may maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass any person or specific group of persons because of that person’s or group of persons’ race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, or national origin:

(1) Cause physical injury to another person; or

(2) Deface any real or personal property of another person; or

(3) Damage or destroy any real or personal property of another person; or

(4) Threaten, by word or act, to do the acts prohibited if there is reasonable cause to believe that any of the acts prohibited in subdivision (1), (2), or (3) of this section will occur.

A violation of this section is a Class 6 felony.

Source: SL 1993, ch 177, § 1; SL 2005, ch 120, § 181.

While hate crimes in South Dakota are considered a felony, surprisingly the current South Dakota Crime Victim Rights Act doesn’t apply to victims of hate crimes. It only applies to victims of “crimes of violence” – simple assault between persons in a relationship, stalking or victims of a driving under the influence vehicle accident. “Crimes of Violence” is defined in law as:

SDCL 22-1-2(9) “Crime of violence,” any of the following crimes or an attempt to commit, or a conspiracy to commit, or a solicitation to commit any of the following crimes: murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, riot, robbery, burglary in the first degree, arson, kidnapping, felony sexual contact as defined in § 22-22-7, felony child abuse as defined in § 26-10-1, or any other felony in the commission of which the perpetrator used force, or was armed with a dangerous weapon, or used any explosive or destructive device

Of the many benefits Marsy’s Law offers South Dakota, the law additionally strengthens and expands the current South Dakota Crime Victim Rights Act by giving the right to be notified and the right to be heard at hearings to all crime victims. There are many serious crimes for which current law does not apply, such as hate crimes. Victims of crimes like simple assault, misdemeanor sexual assaults, intimidation, harassment, reckless driving, property theft or vandalism, identity theft, human trafficking, trespass and hate crimes should not be left out of current rights offered to victims of crime.

Vote yes on Amendment S to give victims of hate crimes, and other crimes, equal rights in our judicial process.