Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 6 (2000)

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Cite as: 530 U. S. 466 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

have a reputation for racial bias. He also took the stand himself, explaining that the incident was an unintended consequence of overindulgence in alcohol, denying that he was in any way biased against African-Americans, and denying that his statement to the police had been accurately described. The judge, however, found the police officer's testimony credible, and concluded that the evidence supported a finding "that the crime was motivated by racial bias." App. to Pet. for Cert. 143a. Having found "by a preponderance of the evidence" that Apprendi's actions were taken "with a purpose to intimidate" as provided by the statute, id., at 138a, 139a, 144a, the trial judge held that the hate crime enhancement applied. Rejecting Apprendi's constitutional challenge to the statute, the judge sentenced him to a 12-year term of imprisonment on count 18, and to shorter concurrent sentences on the other two counts.

Apprendi appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution requires that the finding of bias upon which his hate crime sentence was based must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, In re Winship, 397 U. S. 358 (1970). Over dissent, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey upheld the enhanced sentence. 304 N. J. Super. 147, 698 A. 2d 1265 (1997). Relying on our decision in McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U. S. 79 (1986), the appeals court found that the state legislature decided to make the hate crime enhancement a "sentencing factor," rather than an element of an underlying offense—and that decision was within the State's established power to define the elements of its crimes. The hate crime statute did not create a presumption of guilt, the court determined, and did not appear " 'tailored to permit the . . . finding to be a tail which wags the dog of the substantive offense.' " 304 N. J. Super., at 154, 698 A. 2d, at 1269 (quoting McMillan, 477 U. S., at 88). Characterizing the required finding as one of "motive," the court described it as a traditional "sentencing factor," one not considered an "essen-


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