How will I get punished for committing a crime in Japan?
Types of punishments for committing a crime in Japan
The different kinds of punishment for committing a crime in Japan are shown above, from the lightest punishment to the heaviest. These punishments are petty fines, detention, fines, confinement, imprisonment, and the death penalty. In practice, detention is rarely actually given as a punishment.
Depending on the crime, a fine and confinement without work or imprisonment with work may be imposed at the same time, which is called cumulative imposition.
As for the difference between confinement and imprisonment; both confinement and imprisonment are punishments in which the guilty party is imprisoned. Confinement refers to solitary confinement, and imprisonment refers to working during the day while imprisoned. However, people in confinement may also work if they wish. More than 80% of inmates sentenced to confinement are engaged voluntarily in prison work.
If you are sentenced with a petty fine or a fine but do not have the financial resources to pay, you are able to exchange that fine for time in a detention center. In addition, when you are fined, you will also be informed of the equivalent period of detention. The term of detention in lieu of a fine is determined between a range of one day to two years. The term of detention in lieu of a fine is determined within a range of one day to 30 days.
Sentencing and criminal records
How do judges determine how heavy a punishment someone receives?
The judge determines the sentence based on the evidence presented by prosecutors and lawyers, comparing it with the sentencing rates of other similar cases. For example, the fact that compensation was paid to the victim or that there were unavoidable circumstances leading to a crime affects the judgment of the judge, and a lighter sentence can be expected in such a case.
If I am punished, will I get a criminal record?
Yes, you will. The misdemeanor will be on your Japanese criminal record, which employers even in other countries may ask for. Any of the punishments listed above, even just petty fines, result in a criminal record. It is the same when a summary trial is held for a relatively minor crime or when a trial is held and a fine is imposed. In order to avoid a criminal record, it is necessary to obtain the judge’s decision not to prosecute or to win an acquittal.
Is there any way to avoid punishment?
These punishments are a court order. If you manage to get your case wrapped up after getting a disposition of non-prosecution, you will not received any punishment.
For example, in the case of a crime with a victim involved, if you reach an out-of-court settlement with the victim and get forgiveness from the victim or the victim withdraws the case, the possibility of non-prosecution increases. If the case ends without indictment, there will be no criminal record of any kind, so it will be easier to transition back into society.
Of course, the best way to accomplish these is to seek the help of a lawyer. Lawyers can collect evidence in your favor, conduct investigations that you can’t, and are experienced in strategizing and giving accused people advice on how to avoid punishment.
This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice.