Previous Conviction (Difference from Criminal Record)
The term ‘previous conviction’ (「前科」zenka) and ‘criminal record’ (「前歴」zenreki) are not legal terms, so it is difficult to define them clearly. Generally, ‘previous conviction’ means the fact and personal history that one had received a conviction in past times. On the other hand, ‘criminal record’ indicates the fact and personal history that one had been investigated by the investigative authority in past times.
Once one got a previous conviction, the record is to be registered as the note of criminal record in the database of the public prosecutor’s office under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Justice and will be kept until the person with a previous conviction dies. The written paper which a public prosecutor’s assistant officer made based on the note of criminal record is called ‘document of criminal record’. The document of criminal record is used by a public prosecutor to find out existence or non-existence of previous conviction of a suspect or is used as evidence that shows existence or non-existence of previous conviction and its content at trial.
Moreover, where one was sentenced to more than fine (except suspended sentence), measures such as being listed in the list of criminals under the jurisdiction of municipality of his/her permanent legal address for a certain period is to be taken. The list of criminals under the jurisdiction of municipality of his/her permanent legal address is used to check whether a previous record could be causes of disqualification for acquisition of qualification of some occupation or to find out existence or non-existence of the right to vote or the right to hold office. However, the previous conviction listed in the list of criminals is to be deleted with invalidation of pronounce of punishment.
In addition, not only a previous conviction but also a criminal record is administered in the database of public prosecutor’s office to use for an investigation and a resolution of a case. However, not everyone can browse them: only those who have an authority where it is necessary to solve a case can browse them.
Besides, a previous conviction is not registered in a domiciliary register nor in a residence certificate.
Disadvantages for a Person with Previous Conviction
Where one committed a crime and got to be subject to criminal procedures, the investigative authority definitely investigates presence or absence of previous conviction. When the suspect has a previous conviction, the fact may bring to a heavier disposition although depending on the content and numbers of the previous conviction. Where a public prosecutor prosecutes the suspect, he definitely requests the document of criminal record as evidence, and a court determines punishment considering presence or absence of previous conviction and its content. Especially, in cases where one committed the same type of crime again and again in a short time, it is highly likely to impose heavier punishment on him/her than before.
Besides, a previous conviction causes a certain disadvantage in social life. For example, a certain qualification becomes restricted as a professional restriction. That one was sentenced to more than imprisonment can apply to the causes of disqualification for government officials, lawyers and certified accountants.
As the presence or absence of a previous conviction is in principle controlled strictly, it is not accessible to the public, and even the person with a previous conviction him/herself cannot make a referral to it. However, if a case got a media coverage, it may be brought to light by an investigation done by a private inquiry agency or come out through the grapevine. At the time of employment, it is not necessary to talk actively about a previous conviction, however; if one told a lie it could be fraud in application for employment, and if it comes to light later it may be a cause of punitive dismissal.
To Avoid Previous Conviction
One has a previous conviction when the investigative authority carried out an investigation, a public prosecutor prosecuted him/her, and a court pronounced a guilty verdict. Then, as a mean to avoid a previous conviction, one first can think of beating the charges. However, it is not easy to beat the charges. Because it is said that the percentage of guilt of cases prosecuted by public prosecutors is 99%. There are few cases that the accused can beat the charges.
However, the percentage of prosecution of cases sent to public prosecutors is 40 %. It is perhaps surprisingly, however; about 60 % of the cases is dropped by public prosecutors. Therefore, where the investigative authority initiated the criminal proceedings against a case, it can be said that it is beneficial to look toward the disposition not to institute a public action.
Way To Get the Disposition Not To Institute a Public Action
Disposition not to institute a public action is one of the final dispositions by a public prosecutor and a determination not to prosecute the suspect. There are some reasons for the disposition not to institute a public action, for typical example where there is no complaint from the victim in a case of offense prosecutable upon a complaint. Besides, a public prosecutor may determine suspension of prosecution when an offense is petty though the establishment of a crime is obvious, or taking into account various factors such as the fact that the out-of-court settlement was reached with the victim.
When seeking non-prosecution, it is of principal importance to reach a settlement with the victims. In a case of the offense prosecutable upon a complaint, one will not face prosecution if the victim drops his/her complaint and a public prosecutor tends to determine that there is no need to prosecute if the suspect and the victim have reached an arrangement. In add, a lawyer works on to a public prosecutor showing favorable circumstances that the suspect has alibi, that the suspect reflects on his/her past conduct, or that the suspect has in place the kind of environment necessary for repeated crime prevention. It is necessary to do those activities until a public prosecutor determines prosecution or non-prosecution. It is important to take action actively from the early stage to do enough defense activities within limited time.
If you want to gain non-prosecution and avoid criminal record, we recommend you to consult with a lawyer as early as possible. If you have any trouble, please visit AICHI Criminal Cases Law Firm to consult.