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Fig. 4-2-1-1 shows the flow of treatment of juvenile delinquents.
When the police and other authorities clear a juvenile offender aged 14-19 (excluding cases related to the payment of non-penal fines for traffic violation), the case is referred directly to a family court for offenses liable to fines or lighter punishment, or to a public prosecutor for other offenses (see Chapter 1 of this Part for the definition of juvenile offenders aged 14-19, juvenile offenders under 14 and status offenders). Following the referral, the public prosecutor completes the investigation, and then refers the case to a family court with an opinion on treatment if suspicion of any offense is found, or if sufficient grounds are found to submit the case to a hearing by a family court for status offense, etc., even when there is no suspicion of offence.
The public prosecutor may request detention only in unavoidable circumstances. When such detention is required, the judge may detain the juvenile in a juvenile classification home. Instead of a request for detention, the public prosecutor may request the judge for protective detention for the juvenile. In this case, the juvenile is detained at a juvenile classification home according to the warrant issued by the judge.
As for juvenile offenders under 14 and status offenders aged under 14, priority is given to measures under the Child Welfare Law. In principle, anyone who has discovered a child without a guardian or a child who is deemed inappropriate to be placed in the custody of a guardian should notify the case to a prefectural welfare office or child guidance center. A family court may subject such juvenile to a hearing only when it received the referral from the prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance center.
Anyone who has discovered a status offender aged 14 or over should, in principle, notify the case to a family court. A police officer or a guardian may directly notify the case to a child guidance center if the status offender is less than 18 years of age, and the police officer or guardian recognizes it more appropriate to first leave the case to measures under the Child Welfare Law than direct referral or notification to a family court.
After receiving a case, the family court may order a family court probation officer to interview the juvenile, guardians and witnesses, and conduct other necessary investigations concerning the behavior, background, predisposition, environment, etc. of the juvenile, guardians and other persons concerned. When necessary for conducting a hearing, the family court, by an adjudication of protective detention, may require classification on predisposition by detaining the juvenile in question in a juvenile classification home for a certain period of time.
Although the detention of a juvenile to a juvenile classification home may not exceed 2 weeks in principle, the term of detention may be renewed only once when special circumstances require continued detention. However, in the cases involving juvenile offenders aged 14-19 charged for crimes which are punishable by death penalty or imprisonment with or without labor, for which examination of witnesses, examination by experts, or inspection regarding finding of delinquent facts is determined to be performed or has been performed, if there are appropriate reasons to recognize that remarkable hindrance would occur to a hearing unless the juvenile is detained, the term of detention may be further renewed with limits of not more than twice. Therefore, in such case, the term of detention to a juvenile classification home is limited to 8 weeks at maximum.
Fig. 4-2-1-1 Flowchart of treatment proceedings for juvenile offenders and delinquents
Moreover, when the victims, etc. (meaning the victims or the legal representatives thereof, or spouses, lineal relatives or siblings in the case that the victims are deceased; hereinafter the same) of crimes relating to juveniles offer statements of opinions on the case including emotions regarding victimization, the family court hears such statements itself, or orders family court probation officers to hear them.
The family court terminates a case by making a decision of dismissal without a hearing if, in light of the result of investigations, it determines that it is impossible or inappropriate to subject the juvenile to a hearing. If the court determines that a hearing should be conducted on the juvenile, it makes a decision to commence such hearing. If the hearing leads the court to determine that it is impossible or unnecessary to place the juvenile under protective measures, it has to make a decision of dismissal after the hearing.
The hearing by the family court is generally performed by a single judge. However, in cases where a decision to perform a hearing by a collegiate body was made by a collegiate body, the collegiate body of judges would deal with the case. The hearing in the family court is closed to the public, and is performed in a cordial manner and in a relaxed atmosphere, and must encourage delinquent juveniles to reflect on their own delinquency. The juvenile and his/her guardians and attendants are summoned on the date of hearing. The family court probation officer is also required to be present, in principle. In addition, relatives of the juvenile, teachers and other persons deemed appropriate may be allowed to attend the hearing. Probation officers and volunteer probation officers, as well as instructors and classification specialists working for the juvenile classification home, may express their opinions with the permission of the judge. Furthermore, when the family court recognizes that, concerning crimes by juvenile offenders aged 14-19 that caused victims to die due to intentional criminal acts, or crimes by such juvenile offenders that are punishable by death penalty, life imprisonment, or imprisonment with or without labor for a short time of 2 years or more, it is necessary for public prosecutors to be involved with the proceedings of the hearing in order to verify the facts of the delinquency, it may make public prosecutors be present at the hearing by a decision. In such cases, if the juvenile does not have a lawyer as an attendant, the family court has to assign a public attendant to the juvenile.
With the permission of the family court, the juvenile and guardians may appoint any person other than a lawyer as an attendant. To appoint a lawyer as an attendant, such permission is not required. Guardians may themselves serve as attendants with the permission of the court.
If the family court determines, after the hearing, that it is appropriate to place the juvenile under protective measures, it will make an adjudication of probation, commitment to a home for juvenile training and education or a home for dependent children , or commitment to a juvenile training school.
Furthermore, if it is deemed necessary, the family court may take necessary measures such as admonition, guidance or others at the investigation or hearing, in order to prompt guardians to recognize their responsibility for custody of the juvenile and prevent delinquency, or order the family court probation officer to take such measures.
The family court may also place the juvenile under tentative supervision, which is to make a family court probation officer directly supervise the juvenile for a certain period of time, if it deems such supervision necessary to determine on the protective measures.
In the case where the family court has made a decision to finalize a case relating to a juvenile, if the victims, etc. of the case make an application for notification of the name and address of the juvenile perpetrator and content of final determination, etc. within 3 years of such determination, the family court will notify such persons of such matters. However, this shall not apply to cases where making such a notification is recognized as being liable to hinder the sound development of the juvenile and thus unreasonable. In addition, in the case where victims, etc. make a request to inspect or copy the records of a relevant case during a hearing or within 3 years after the determination in the hearing, the family court enables such persons to inspect or copy the records of such cases if it is deemed appropriate taking into consideration the effects on the sound development of juveniles, the nature of the case, etc. since it is deemed necessary to execute rights for damages, or since there is other good cause.
Against the adjudication of protective measures, the juvenile, or his or her legal representative or attendant, may make an appeal only on the grounds of violation of any law or regulation that affects the adjudication, grave error in fact influential to the adjudication, or serious unfairness of the disposition (However, an attendant cannot make an appeal against the clearly expressed intention of the guardians who appointed the attendant). In the cases where the involvement of public prosecutors has been determined, public prosecutors may request the high court to accept the case as an appeal case against the adjudication to give or not to give protective measures only on the grounds of violation of any law and regulation that affects the adjudication or grave error in fact concerning the finding of fact of delinquency.
If the family court determines, in light of the result of the investigation or hearing, that measures under the Child Welfare Law are appropriate, it refers the case to the prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance center. When the case involves an offense punishable by death penalty or an offense punishable by imprisonment with or without labor, the family court refers the case to a public prosecutor if it determines that criminal disposition is appropriate. Also, as for cases in which victims died due to intentional criminal acts that were committed by juveniles at the 16 of age or over, the family court must refer such cases to the public prosecutor, except for cases in which measures other than criminal dispositions are considered as appropriate in light of the motives and modes of the offenses, the situations after the offenses, the personality, age, behavior and environment of juveniles, and other conditions. After receiving the referral, the public prosecutor, in principle, must institute public prosecution.
Subsequently, prosecuted juveniles are subjected to the same procedure for treatment as adults. However, some special provisions are applicable to juvenile offenders. For instance, life imprisonment is imposed on offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense when the death penalty is appropriate, and imprisonment with or without labor for 10 years or more but less than 15 years may be imposed instead of life imprisonment. When imprisonment with or without labor for a long term of 3 years or more should be imposed, an indeterminate sentence (defining the minimum and maximum term of imprisonment) within the scope of the penalty is imposed. In addition, juveniles who were sentenced to imprisonment with or without labor serve their sentence separately from adult prisoners. Concerning execution of sentence, juveniles under 16 who were sentenced to imprisonment with or without labor can serve their sentence at juvenile training schools until they reach 16 years of age. In such cases, juveniles who were sentenced to imprisonment with labor will not be subject to work during this period and will receive correctional education at juvenile training schools.
Special provisions are applicable to juveniles who were sentenced to imprisonment with or without labor. Juveniles who were sentenced to life imprisonment are eligible for parole after serving 7 years and those who were under 18 at the time of committing the crimes and thus were sentenced to imprisonment for a limited term instead of life imprisonment are eligible for parole after serving 3 years. However, for juveniles sentenced to life imprisonment instead of death penalty since they were under 18 at the time of committing the offenses, the former provision shall not be applied.
In principle, juveniles placed under probationary supervision by family court adjudication are supervised by probation officers and volunteer probation officers and receive necessary guidance and support for their improvement and rehabilitation until they reach 20 years of age. Measures such as early discharge from probation are taken for juveniles who are considered no longer liable to commit a repeat crime due to stabilization of their behavior during the period.
Juveniles committed to a home for juvenile training and education or to a home for dependent children are received by these facilities, which are under the Child Welfare Law.
Juveniles committed to a juvenile training school are admitted to a specific type of training school-primary, middle, advanced or medical-and follow a path for rehabilitation through correctional education there. Juveniles are placed under probationary supervision after being released on parole from schools.
Other juveniles to be placed under probationary supervision include those who have been granted suspension of execution of sentence, as well as those who have been released on parole from juvenile prison, etc. after serving sentence.
In addition, if materials have been newly discovered that expressly show that protective measures were taken despite the fact that there were no reasons for the commencement of the hearing, during or after completing protective measures, the family court that made such adjudication of protective measures must revoke such measures by an adjudication.
Explanation of terms
Home for juvenile training and education/home for dependent children: A home for juvenile training and education is an institution for the purpose of giving necessary guidance to juveniles who have committed or are likely to commit delinquent behavior and assisting them in becoming independent. Also, a home for dependent children is an institution for the purpose of protecting children, etc. who do not have guardians, or who are abused, and assisting them in becoming independent.