Policing and Juveniles

A judicial police officer shall refer to a Family Court a case involving a juvenile who is, as a result of the investigation of the case, suspected of committing a crime punishable by fine or lighter punishment. The same applies even when the juvenile is not suspected of committing a crime if grounds exist for which the juvenile should be subject to a hearing and the decision of the Family Court. In practice, this means that the police refer minor cases of juvenile offenders directly to the Family Court and other cases to the public prosecutors. But the public prosecutors also refer all cases to the Family Court after completing their investigations. Therefore, in the end all cases are sent to the family court (Hiroyuki 2004). At this point, the police begin their initial investigations of a juvenile offender. This is accomplished through the specialized departments of the prefecture police (headquarters of Todofuken) and through specialized groups in police stations who take full responsibility for juvenile offenders. As a rule, juvenile criminals are investigated under the Criminal Procedure Law. The documentation and evidence related to juvenile crimes are transferred to the prosecutors without delay, even if it is not mandated by laws. With a warrant issued by a judge, a police officer may arrest the suspected juvenile. The maximum period for the detention of an arrested juvenile by the police before the referral of cases to prosecutors is 48 h; otherwise, the police are required to release the juvenile. If the punishment for an accused crime demands more than a fine, the police may transfer the case to the public prosecutor. During the pre-referral detention, the police and the public prosecutors may interview the juvenile (Hiroyuki 2004).

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