White paper on crime 2015 Part2/Chapter1/2
In principle, a district court (for all offenses except for insurrection and those subject to a penalty of fine or less) or a summary court (for offenses subject to a penalty of fine or less, offenses with a penalty as an optional statutory penalty or a certain predesignated offenses including habitual gambling) is designated as a court of first instance in a criminal case.
Trials at courts of first instance are held in public. fWhere a defendant is found guilty, subject to the nature of the offense, the possible punishments include the followings: death penalty, imprisonment with/without work, fine, misdemeanor imprisonment without work, or petty fine. The summary court basically does not have jurisdiction to sentence a punishment severer than imprisonment without work. However, it may sentence imprisonment with work if not more than three years for certain offenses such as theft.
Where the sentence is imprisonment with or without work for not more than three years or a fine not more than 500,000 yen, the execution of the sentence may be suspended (suspended sentence), and where it deemed necessary, the offender may be placed under probationary supervision during the period of suspension.
A speedy trial procedure is available for certain clear and minor cases (excluding offenses punishable by death, life imprisonment with or without work, and offenses only punishable by imprisonment not less than one year), and the court must render suspended sentence if to sentence imprisonment under this procedure.
Summary court, upon the request of the public prosecutor, may order to impose a fine or a petty fine of not more than one million yen through the examination of evidentiary documents (summary proceeding). Those subjected to the summaryordermayrequest for aformaltrial, and thereafter, thecaseistobe triedina public trial.
Public prosecutors and the defense may appeal the judgment of the court of first instance to the high court, and subsequently, to the Supreme Court.