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South Dakota Second-Degree Murder

In South Dakota, there are five types of homicide: murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, justifiable homicide, and vehicular homicide. The crime of murder is then divided into first-degree murder and second-degree murder. This article provides an overview of South Dakota's second-degree murder law.

Code Section

South Dakota Code section 22-16-7: Second Degree Murder

What's Prohibited?

Homicide is murder in the second degree if perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard to human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular person (including an unborn child).
What if the Offender Didn't Intend to Injure? The act of second degree murder isn't mitigated because the offender didn't have the actual intent to injure another person.


Murder in the second degree is a Class B felony that may be punished by life in prison and a fine of $50,000.

Second-Degree Murder Defenses

While there are multiple defenses that that a defendant charged with second-degree murder can potentially put forward in court, there are several commonly used defenses including:

  • Actual innocence
  • Insanity
  • Self-defense, or
  • Intoxication

For more information about the defenses listed above, see FindLaw's section on second-degree murder defenses.

What's the Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder?

In South Dakota, first-degree murder requires that the offender plans and intentionally kills another person unlawfully, or that the defendant commits a killing that qualifies as felony murder. On the other hand, second-degree murder in South Dakota requires a death caused by a reckless disregard for human life via an act that was done without premeditation. Apart from felony murder, the key difference between first and second murder is the degree of intent under which the offender acted.

Solicitation for Murder

In many states it is also a crime to solicit murder. In other words, it is illegal for anyone to solicit someone else to commit either first or second-degree murder on his or her behalf.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding South Dakota's second-degree murder law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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