2 Procedure in courts

In principle the first instance trial of a criminal case takes place in a district court (as they have first instance jurisdiction over offenses other than those subject to fine or lighter punishment and insurrection) or a summary court (as they have first instance jurisdiction over offenses subject to fine or lighter punishments, offenses punishable with fine as an optional penalty, and certain offenses such as habitual gambling).

The first instance trial can be subject to either the ordinary trial procedure or summary trial procedure. Offenders found guilty in an ordinary trial can be sentenced to the death penalty, imprisonment with work, imprisonment without work, fine, misdemeanor imprisonment without work, or petty fine. Summary courts in principle cannot impose imprisonment or a heavier penalty, although they can impose imprisonment with work for at most three years for certain offenses such as theft. With those sentenced to imprisonment with or without work for three years or less or fine of 500,000 yen or less, execution of the sentence can, in light of the circumstances, be suspended for a fixed period of time (suspension of execution of the sentence). In some cases the offenders can also be placed under probation during the suspended execution period. In addition, since October 2, 2006, clear and minor cases, excluding those pertaining to offenses punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment with or without work, or imprisonment with or without work for a minimum term of one year or more, can utilize the speedy trial procedure. A court rendering a judgment of imprisonment with or without work in a speedy trial procedure must make it with suspension of execution of the sentence whereas a summary trial procedure results in the suspect being sentenced to fine or petty fine of not more than one million yen by means of examination of the relevant documents at a summary court.

Koso appeals against judgments in the first instance can be filed to a high court and Jokoku appeals against judgments in Koso appeals to the Supreme Court.