The number of convictions for ingestion of a controlled substance spiked following a criminal justice reform package in 2013.
That’s according to data from the state Unified Judicial System. A legislative study is looking at offenses regarding controlled substances.
Greg Sattizahn is the State Court Administrator. He says while Minnehaha County tops the list for possession of controlled substances, it doesn’t make the top three for ingestion convictions.
“It certainly looks like their practice is not to charge out those ingestion cases in the same manner that they charge their possession cases,” Sattizahn says. “There could be a number of reasons. It certainly jumps out at you when you look at the data. Now, Pennington County charges the most, with Codington County a very close second. In my mind that probably relates to charging practices and how the state’s attorney proceeds on cases.”
South Dakota is one of the only states that charges for ingestion. It’s a class five or six felony, which is the same as possession. Before 2014, possession was a class four felony.
Sattizahn says before the criminal justice reform package in 2014, most prosecutors would charge possession and ingestion, then back it off from there.
“The ingestion statute existed, it just was very rarely used,” Sattizahn says. “In 2014 with the legislative change, that made it clear ingestion of a chemical absorbed in the body that’s going to be charged has to be charged under the ingestion statute. We certainly saw a dramatic increase in those ingestion convictions.”
Over the last three years, nearly 3,000 people were convicted for ingestion of a controlled substance.