White paper on crime 2013 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/2
A family court is required to investigate any case referred to it. It can order a family court research law clerk to investigate the case.
A family court may refer a juvenile to a juvenile classification home and request a classification of their predisposition by a ruling (protective detention) if it is needed for a hearing. In this case, the juvenile classification home accommodates the referred juvenile and classifies his/her predisposition based on the expertise it has in medicine, psychology, pedagogy, sociology, and other specialized fields in order to contribute to the hearing in a family court. As of April 1, 2013, there were 52 juvenile classification homes nationwide (including one branch home). After the ruling to place them under protective measures, the result of the classification determination is sent to the juvenile training school or probation office for use as reference material in the juvenile’s subsequent treatment.
Based on the results of an investigation, a family court makes a ruling on whether to hold a hearing. Hearing in family courts typically involve a single judge. However, a collegiate body of judges can conduct hearings if the decision is made to do so. The juvenile or the custodians can assign an attendant, but they need permission of the family court to appoint someone other than an attorney at law as the attendant. Hearings are closed to the public, but a family court can allow victims or their family members, in certain serious cases, to attend the hearing upon request, although only when deemed appropriate and not likely to disrupt the healthy development of the juvenile concerned.
The family court may, by a ruling, have a public prosecutor participate in a hearing of a case involving a juvenile who has committed specified serious offenses, when the court finds it necessary to find the facts of the delinquency. In this case, if the juvenile has no attendant who is an attorney at law, the court shall appoint one.
The family court may, by a ruling, place a juvenile under supervision by a family court research law clerk when it is deemed necessary to make a ruling to place the juvenile under protective measures (tentative supervision).
When it is found impossible or unnecessary to place the juvenile under protective measures as a result of the hearing, the family court shall render a ruling not to place the juvenile under protective measures. When it is found appropriate to take measures prescribed in the Child Welfare Act, the family court shall refer the case to a prefectural governor or a child consultation center's director. If the decision is made to refer the case for tiral using criminal procedure for adults, the family court shall refer a case punishable capital punishment or imprisonment with or without work to a public prosecutor. The family court shall give a ruling to refer a case to a public prosecutor where a juvenile who is 16 years of age or older committed an intentional criminal act that caused death to the victim. Except in the cases mentioned above, the family court shall, by a ruling, place a juvenile under protective measures. Protective measures include placing the juvenile on probation through the probation office, commitment to a children’s self-reliance support facility or foster home (limited to juveniles younger than 18), and commitment to a juvenile training school (generally limited to juveniles aged 12 or older).
The juvenile or the legal representative or attendant of the juvenile may lodge an appeal against a ruling imposing protective measures only for a reason of a violation of laws and regulations that affects the ruling, a serious error of fact or substantial inappropriateness of the measures. A public prosecutor may file a request to a high court for acceptance of a case as the court of second instance only on the grounds of a violation of laws and regulations that affects the ruling or of a serious error of fact in connection with the fact-finding on the case for which the ruling to have a public prosecutor participate in a hearing has been made.