What Is The Law On Compounding A Felony In South Dakota And What Are The Punishments For It?
Compounding or concealing a felony, is a criminal offense wherein a person gives an explicit or implicit consent to an understanding, acceptance, agreement, or undertaking to acceptance of a financial benefit, pecuniary benefits, gratuity, gifts, rewards, or anything of value with the intention, attempt, or surety of concealment of a crime, suppression, or refusal of evidence or prevention of prosecution of a perpetrator beyond permissible or prescribed procedure or practice.
Therefore, the key elements of the crime of compounding are:
- The defendant is well aware of the commission of a felony by the perpetrator or has sufficient knowledge that the perpetrator has committed some felony towards an illegal objective.
- The defendant willfully undertakes acceptance or accepts the financial transaction, payment of money, gift, reward, gratuity, promised engagement with underlying benefit, or any benefit of value from the perpetrator of the felony in lieu of a commitment or intention to:
- Refuse, suppress, or attempt to suppress evidence of the felony.
- A compound, or conceal the felony.
- Prevent prosecution of the perpetrator.
- Obstruct government procedures to prosecute the perpetrator.
Historically, compounding of felonies was treated as a misdemeanor under Common Law, but Statutory Laws in their present form, across many States, recognize it as a felony. Some states see it as a form of bribery, some as a conspiracy while some have explicit legislation for it. The State of South Dakota is one such State As per SD Codified L § 22-11-10 (through 2012), of the South Dakota Revised Statutes, a person is deemed guilty of the offense of compounding a crime if he or she agrees to accept, solicits or accepts any benefit in the form of a consideration in lieu of:
- Not pursuing prosecution of the perpetrator of a crime.
- Not report a crime, information relating to a crime or suspicion of the commission of a crime to law enforcement authorities.
There is no distinction if the acceptance or agreement of acceptance is expressed or implied and the same has been deemed immaterial in much court precedence.
The aforesaid statute also distinguishes the types of Compounding of crimes based on the underlying crime, wherein:
- If the offender conceals a felony, suspicion of a felony, evidence for a felony or prevents prosecution of a perpetrator who has committed a felony, the offense is identified as compounding of a felony, a class 6 felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $4,000. Class 6 felonies are those felonies which are awarded the least fine and sentencing among felonies. South Dakota does not distinguish between categories of underlying felonies as a rule to award a higher punishment.
- If the offender conceals a misdemeanor, suspicion of a misdemeanor, evidence for a misdemeanor or prevents the prosecution of a perpetrator who has committed a misdemeanor, the offense is identified as Compounding a misdemeanor, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a prison sentence of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $2,000. Class 1 misdemeanors are those misdemeanors, which are awarded the highest fine and sentencing amongst misdemeanors.
It is pertinent to note that in the State of South Dakota, the following transactions are identified as exclusive of the transactions that qualify under compounding of felonies:
- A promissory note or written pledge, as accepted by the defendant for not prosecuting a perpetrator for any permissible reason.
- Explicit refusal of the defendant to partake in any prosecution of the perpetrator for the reason of having sympathy towards the perpetrator and not anything of value, which may be seen as a consideration for compounding.