In a hearing this morning in the Stanley County courthouse in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, Attorney General pled no contest to two of the three traffic charges brought against him for the September 12, 2020 car crash in which he killed pedestrian Joseph Boever.
In response, Judge John Brown (as webcast live via audio on KSFY-TV’s website) denied the defense’s request for suspended imposition of sentence and sentenced Ravnsborg to pay the maximum $500 fine plus court costs (it sounded like under $100) for each charge, driving while using a mobile device and driving out of the proper lane. Judge Brown also ordered Ravnsborg to pay $3,742.38 to reimburse Hyde County for costs related to the case. Defense attorney Tim Rensch, speaking for Ravnsborg, who did not appear in court today, argued the county costs were regular investigation costs for which statute does not make defendants liable, but Judge Brown ruled that the high-profile nature of this case created additional costs for securing and investigating the scene of the car crash.
Judge Brown denied the request of Boever’s mother for restitution for funeral costs. He noted that the family received a payout from Boever’s life insurance that covered the funeral costs. Other restitution claims, said Judge Brown, are more properly handled through a wrongful death civil action, which Boever’s widow has signaled is coming.
Judge Brown noted that the defense is correct in arguing that jail time is not available now that the defendant has pled no contest to these two misdemeanors. Judge Brown thus issued no jail time for these charges, which each could carry a maximum of 30 days in county jail.
However, Judge Brown did sentence Ravnsborg to perform a “significant public service event” once a year for five years on or around the anniversary of Joseph Boever’s death. Rensch immediately challenged that portion of the sentence, asking the judge how he could extend a sentence past the minimum jail time prescribed by law for the charges. Judge Brown said he is working from an analogy to probation, which can extend beyond jail time. Rensch replied that such extended probation time is allowed only in cases of suspended sentences and suspended imposition. Rensch said he appealed a case on that issue just a couple years ago. Judge Brown asked the defense to submit that case to him and to the state by the beginning of next week so that he can review the five-year public-service portion of his sentence.