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Apprendi v. New Jersey

Supreme Court of the United States

March 28, 2000, Argued ; June 26, 2000, Decided

No. 99-478


 [*468]  [***442]  [**2351]    JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

 ] A New Jersey statute classifies the possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose as a "second-degree" offense. N. J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-4(a) (West 1995). Such an offense is punishable by imprisonment for "between five years and 10 years." § 2C:43-6(a)(2). ] A separate statute, described by that State's Supreme Court as a "hate crime" law, provides for an "extended term" of imprisonment if the trial judge finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that "the defendant  [*469]  in committing the crime acted with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, gender,  [****7]  handicap, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity." N. J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:44-3(e) (West Supp. 2000). ] The extended term authorized by the hate crime law for second-degree offenses is imprisonment for "between 10 and 20 years." § 2C:43-7(a)(3).

The question presented is whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that a factual determination authorizing an increase in the maximum prison sentence for an offense from 10 to 20 years be made by a jury on the basis of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

At 2:04 a.m. on December 22, 1994, petitioner Charles C. Apprendi, Jr., fired several .22-caliber bullets into the home of an African-American family that had recently moved into a previously all-white neighborhood in Vineland, New Jersey. Apprendi was promptly arrested and, at 3:05 a.m., admitted that he was the shooter. After further questioning, at 6:04 a.m., he made a statement -- which he later retracted -- that even though he did not know the occupants of the house personally, "because they are black in color he does not want them in the neighborhood." 159 N.J. 7, 10, 731 A.2d 485, 486 (1999). [**2352]  

A New Jersey grand jury returned a 23-count indictment [****8]  charging Apprendi with four first-degree, eight second-degree, six third-degree, and five fourth-degree offenses. The charges alleged shootings on four different dates, as well as the unlawful possession of various weapons. None of the counts referred to the hate crime statute, and none alleged that Apprendi acted with a racially biased purpose.

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530 U.S. 466 *; 120 S. Ct. 2348 **; 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 ***; 2000 U.S. LEXIS 4304 ****; 68 U.S.L.W. 4576; 2000 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5061; 2000 Daily Journal DAR 6749; 2000 Colo. J. C.A.R. 3722; 13 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 457



Disposition: 159 N. J. 7, 731 A. 2d 485, reversed and remanded.


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Criminal Law & Procedure, Possession of Weapons, Unregistered Firearm, Penalties, Weapons Offenses, General Overview, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Accusatory Instruments, Indictments, Due Process, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Defendant's Rights, Right to Jury Trial, Criminal History, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Criminal Process, Speedy Trial, Preliminary Proceedings, Speedy Trial, Right to Jury Trial, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Trials, Right to Public Trial, Statutory Maximums, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Purpose, Specific Intent