Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions. If you can't find the answer to your question or would like more information, please give us a call at 605-339-4500 and we'll be happy to help you.
How long have your attorneys been practicing law?
Sidney B. Strange – since 1970
Thomas J. Farrell – since 1972
Richard A. Johnson – since 1977
Gregory T. Brewers - since 1995
Eric A. Lovro - since 2006
Amber Eggert - since 2006
Does your practice handle civil suits?
What are your hours?
Our hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Where are you located?
Our address is:
4420 S. Technology Dr.
Sioux Falls, SD 57106
We are located in near the intersection of 49th St. and Louise Avenue.
Will more than one lawyer in your firm be familiar with my case?
Our firm works as a team. If one of us is unavailable and your case requires attention, someone else in the firm will be able to competently serve your needs.
What kinds of cases do you handle?
We handle a wide variety of cases, including but not limited to, divorce and family law, custody, child support, criminal defense, corporate, probate, personal injury, and wills and estates.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes. We accept VISA, MasterCard and Discover.
What do I do if the police want to question me?
Do not talk to the police. Talk to your lawyer.
You have no obligation to talk to the police, with the exception of providing your name, address and a form of identification if requested. Do not attempt to explain yourself even if the officer promises to "go easy on you".
Many convictions are the result of statements made by suspects themselves to police officers. Anything you say can be used against you. Politely inform the officer that you do not wish to answer any questions and that you would like to talk to a lawyer.
What should I do if I am arrested?
The number one rule is to be polite but do not give the police information other than identifying information such as your name and address, etc. Never be rude to a police officer, as it will only make matters worse. Never refuse or resist arrest. Inform the officer that you would like to talk to a lawyer.
What rights do I have if I am arrested?
- You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say may be used against you.
- You have the right to be represented by a lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to you by the court.
- You have the right to a speedy, public jury trial in the county in which you are arrested with an impartial jury of your peers.
- You are presumed innocent of the charges until the State has proven you guilty of the offense charged against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You have the right to confront and cross-examine any witness that the State has against you.
- You have the right against self-incrimination, which means that you cannot be made to say anything harmful or damaging to yourself. The State cannot call you as a witness and cannot make any reference to the jury at your trial suggesting your guilt based upon your silence.
- You have the right to present evidence and have the court issue an order called a subpoena that directs witnesses to appear in court to testify on your behalf.
The first two rights listed above are what is known as your Miranda rights. You must be informed of your Miranda rights once you are arrested and before the police officer or other law enforcement agent questions you about the alleged crime.
What if the police do not read me my Miranda rights?
Contrary to popular belief, the police do not have to read you your Miranda rights unless they decide to question you about the alleged crime. If you are questioned without having been informed of your Miranda rights, you may move to have your statements excluded from use at trial.
However, this does not automatically mean that the charges will be dismissed against you.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges. In South Dakota, a misdemeanor can carry a sentence of up to one year in the County Jail. A felony can carry a much longer sentence in the State Penitentiary.
Do I need a lawyer?
Almost always, yes.
If you have reason to believe you are being investigated as a criminal suspect, it is a good idea to contact a criminal defense lawyer who can better advise as to your particular case, especially if a law enforcement officer has asked to speak with you.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you need a lawyer – period.
How do I get out of jail once I am arrested?
Every person has the right to be released from jail upon the posting of bail in the amount ordered by the court unless the court determines that the bail will not reasonably assure such person's appearance in court or that such person may pose a danger to the community.
Money posted for bail is returned to the person who posted it after the case is resolved, unless the defendant fails to appear at a scheduled court hearing, which may cause your bail to be forfeited to the court. If you cannot afford the bail, you may contact a bail bonding company who will post the bail for you upon payment of the bondsman's fee (typical 10% of the bail amount). This amount will not be returned to you as it is the company's fee for posting bail.
It should be noted that if you are arrested, you may be stuck in jail until bond is set by the court. You must be taken before the court without unnecessary delay for purposes of setting bail. This means that if you are arrested on a weekend or a holiday, you may be kept in jail until the next regularly scheduled court session, depending on the charge and the policy of the county in which you are arrested.
What does it mean to be indicted?
If you are indicted, it means that a grand jury has determined that the State has enough evidence to charge you with a crime. A grand jury is a group of citizens who are gathered by the court to hear the prosecutor's evidence in the investigation of a crime. It is the grand jury's responsibility to decide if there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime. In South Dakota, a grand jury proceeding is secret and is conducted without the notice to the person who is the subject of the proceedings.
What is the maximum sentence for a DUI conviction?
In South Dakota, the legislature has enacted an aggravation system for DUI convictions. This means that the penalties increase for each subsequent DUI conviction.
A first offense DUI conviction is a Class I Misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in the County Jail, a $2,000 fine and loss of driver's license up to one year with a minimum loss of your driver's license for 30 days.
A second DUI conviction within ten years remains a Class I Misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of up to one year in the County Jail and/or a $2,000 fine, however, a second offense DUI conviction carries a mandatory loss of your driver's license for one year and an alcohol treatment program must be completed before you are entitled to receive a work permit or to reinstate your driving privileges.
Three or more convictions of Driving Under the Influence within ten years become a felony, which carry maximum sentences in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, as well as potential loss of your driver's license.
For purposes of a DUI conviction, what is the legal blood alcohol content (BAC)?
South Dakota law provides that a person is presumed to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage if that person has a BAC greater than or equal to .08 percent by weight of alcohol in a person's blood.
Can my attorney appear in court for me without me being personally present?
Yes, in all traffic and misdemeanor cases. However, if you are charged with a felony, you must personally attend each session of court. Failure to personally appear at each court hearing on a felony charge is punishable by an additional felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of up to two years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Do you work outside of Minnehaha County?
Yes. We accept cases all over South Dakota. However, we do have to charge for our travel time to and from our Sioux Falls offices to the county seat where your case is filed.
What is the cost of a probate?
We bill at our hourly rate for all probate work. The total attorney fees incurred in each case depends on the amout of work involved and the complexity of the issues.
How do I know if I need to probate my family member's estate?
If there is property that belonged to the deceased that is not held in joint tenancy or did not have a specific beneficiary named, then you will need to probate the estate.
Do I need a will?
Almost everyone should have a will, especially if you have real estate that would need to be passed on at the time of your death. Also, if you have any specific assets that you wish to go to certain individuals upon your death, then it is important that you have a will. Also, anyone with minor children should have a will in order to appoint guardians for the children in the event of the death of both parents.
What is child support based on and who determines how much it takes to support a child?
Child support is based on the combined net monthly incomes of the parents of the child by application of a pro rata formula of the guidelines.
Does South Dakota have no-fault divorce?
No. You must have grounds for a divorce.
The grounds as set forth by statute are adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual intemperance, conviction of a felony and irreconcilable differences.
How long will it take to finalize my divorce?
There is a mandatory 60-day waiting period from the time the divorce is commenced until the court has jurisdiction to grant a divorce. Most divorces are not done in the 60-day time period. The complexity of the case determines how long it will take, which may be up to one year or more.
Who will get custody of the child/children?
The parties may agree to a custody and visitation arrangement or the court will be forced to decide. The court looks to what is in the child's/children's best interest in deciding with whom the children should live. Joint legal custody allows each parent to be involved in the major decision-making affecting the child's life. Sole custody allows the custodial parent to make those decisions independently.
How can I get my child support adjusted or changed?
By filing a motion with the circuit court that granted your divorce. But, most often by filing a petition with the Office of Child Support Enforcement for a hearing before a referee.
How are the assets and debts divided?
The parties may agree to a division or the court will decide. South Dakota is an all property/debt state. That means that it does not matter if the property/debt is in both parties' names or in their individual names. The court has the power to divide it based on several factors, and the court's determination of what is fair under the circumstances.
Does South Dakota recognize alimony?
South Dakota recognizes three forms of alimony.
- General alimony is an award of money to assist a former spouse to meet the necessary expenses of life not covered by their earnings.
- Rehabilitative alimony is designed to assist the former spouse to become re-educated or retrained to improve their position in the workplace.
- Restitutional alimony is designed to restore a former spouse to a financial position they previously enjoyed.
Can I make my spouse pay my attorney fees?
An award of attorney fees is up to the discretion of the court based on several factors. Attorney fees are not always awarded and even if they are, the award may not be for the full amount.
What financial information do I need to provide my attorney?
Normally, the attorney will be requesting your tax returns, any financial statements that you have previously prepared, a complete inventory of all assets and liabilities, and a credit report.