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In principle, first instance trials of criminal cases are conducted by district, summary, or family court. High courts have jurisdiction over Koso appeals against judgments by the courts in the first instance, and the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over Jokoku appeals for the last instance against judgments in the Koso appeals.
District courts are principle courts for first instance trials, except for offenses subject to punishment by fines or lighter, offenses coming under the exclusive jurisdiction of family courts and offenses over which high courts have the first instance jurisdiction.
Summary courts have the first instance jurisdiction over prosecutions of (1) offenses subject to punishment by fines or lighter, (2) offenses for which fines are stipulated as an optional punishment, (3) habitual gambling, opening of a place of gambling for the purpose of profit, larceny, attempted larceny, embezzlement (Article 252 of the Penal Code), and illegal transaction of stolen property, except for those coming under the exclusive jurisdiction of family courts. Summary courts in principle cannot sentence imprisonment without labor or heavier punishment, but may sentence imprisonment with labor of 3 years or less for offenses listed in (3) and other certain offenses.
Family courts deal with juvenile cases and have the first instance jurisdiction over prosecutions of adult criminal cases against the welfare of juveniles under the Juvenile Law.
High courts have jurisdiction over Koso appeals against judgments by district, family and summary courts and Kokoku appeals against decisions and orders by these courts (excluding Kokoku appeals under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court) as well as the first instance jurisdiction over certain offenses such as insurrection.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over Jokoku appeals and over Kokoku appeals as specifically stipulated by law.
First instance trials in district and family courts are conducted in ordinary proceedings for public trial while first instance trials in summary courts are conducted in ordinary proceedings or summary proceedings. (Trials that are conducted by first instance courts in ordinary proceedings are hereinafter referred to as "ordinary first instance.")