White paper on crime 2017 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/2
A family court is required to investigate any case referred to it. It can order a family court probation officer to investigate the case.
A family court may refer a juvenile to a juvenile classification home and request an assessment by a ruling (measures for observation and protection of juveniles) if the assessment is necessary for the hearing. In this case, the juvenile is committed to a juvenile classification home and the home assesses the juvenile based on the knowledge and techniques it has with medicine, psychology, pedagogy, sociology, and other expertise in order to contribute to the hearing at the family court. As of April 1, 2017, there are 52 juvenile classification homes nationwide (including one branch home). The findings at the juvenile classification home assessment are to be sent to the juvenile training school or probation office as a reference material in the juvenile's subsequent treatment after the hearing and the ruling to place the juvenile under protective measures.
The Juvenile Classification Homes Act (Act No. 59 of 2014) entered into force fully on July 1, 2015 and was enacted in June 2014 to stipulate the management and administration of juvenile classification homes and the treatment of those juveniles committed.
When it is found appropriate as a result of the investigation, the family court shall give a ruling for commencement of a hearing. The juvenile or the custodians can appoint 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 may allow the victims of certain serious cases to observe the hearing upon their request if the court finds it appropriate and unlikely to hinder sound development of the juvenile.
The family court may, by a ruling, have a public prosecutor participate in a hearing for a case involving a juvenile offender concerning a designated serious crime when the court finds that the participation of a public prosecutor in the hearing is 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 observation by a family court probation officer when it is deemed necessary to make a ruling for protective measures.
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 subject the juvenile to 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. The family court shall, by a ruling, refer a case punishable by the death penalty or imprisonment with or without work to a public prosecutor of the public prosecutors' office that corresponds to the district court with the jurisdiction of the case if the disposition to refer the case to criminal procedure is found appropriate for the case as a result of the investigation in light of the nature of the crime and circumstances. If the juvenile is 16 years of age or older and committed an intentional criminal act that caused death to a victim, the family court, unless the court finds any other disposition more appropriate, needs to rule to refer the case to a public prosecutor. Except in the cases mentioned above, the family court shall, by a ruling, subject the juvenile to protective measures. Protective measures include placing the juvenile under probation by the probation office, referring to a children's self-reliance support facility or a foster home (limited to juveniles younger than 18), or 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 within two weeks 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. In the case where a public prosecutor participated in the hearing by the ruling of the family court, the public prosecutor may file a request to a high court for acceptance of a case as the court of second instance within two weeks of the ruling to implement or not to implement protective measures 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.