|Previous Next Index Image Index Year Selection|
2 Flow of family court procedure(1) Investigation by a family court and classification by a juvenile classification home
A family court is required to investigate any case received from public prosecutors, etc. and may order a family court research law clerk to conduct the necessary investigations.
The family court may then transfer the juvenile to a juvenile classification home and request a classification of their predisposition if it is necessary for a hearing to take place. In this case, the juvenile classification home then accommodates the transferred juvenile and conducts a classification on their predisposition using their specialized expertise.
If the family court determines in light of the results of an investigation that taking measures under the Child Welfare Act is appropriate, the case is then referred to the prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance center. The family court disposes cases according to their substance by making a decision on dismissal without hearing or a decision to commence a hearing.
(2) Hearing in a family court
A hearing in a family court is generally conducted by a single judge. However, a collegiate court body of judges may conduct a hearing if the decision to do so has been made.
Hearings are closed to the public. However, a family court may allow victims, etc. to attend the hearing of certain serious cases upon request, if deemed appropriate and not likely to disturb the healthy development of the juvenile.
A family court may decide to have a public prosecutor attend a hearing if deemed necessary in fact finding of the delinquency of a juvenile offender case concerning specific serious offenses.
A family court may also place a juvenile under tentative supervision, and prompt a family court research law clerk to directly supervise the juvenile for a certain period of time, if deemed necessary in determining the appropriate protective measures.
After the hearing, the family court makes a decision on dismissal if deemed not possible or not necessary to place the juvenile under protective measures. If a family court does deem it appropriate to take measures under the Child Welfare Act, however, the case is referred to the prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance center. If a case involves an offense punishable by death penalty or imprisonment with or without work, the family court will refer the case to a public prosecutor if a criminal disposition is deemed appropriate. However, a family court is required, in principle, to refer any case involving a serious offense committed by a juvenile aged 16 or older to a public prosecutor. In any other case a family court is required to make the decision whether to place the juvenile under one of the following protective measures: probation; commitment to a support facility for development of self-sustaining capacity / children's home (limited to juveniles younger than 18); or commitment to a juvenile training school (limited to juveniles generally aged 12 or older).
A juvenile, or his or her legal representative or attendant, may only appeal against the disposition of a protective measure to a high court on the grounds of a violation of any act or regulation affecting the disposition, a grave error in the fact finding, or serious unfairness of the disposition. In any case where the decision has been made to involve a public prosecutor, the public prosecutor may only request that a high court accept the case as an appeal case against the disposition on the grounds of a violation of any act or regulation affecting the disposition, or a grave error in the fact finding.