Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 22 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 584 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

structs in that context that the characterization of a fact or circumstance as an "element" or a "sentencing factor" is not determinative of the question "who decides," judge or jury. See, e. g., 530 U. S., at 492 (noting New Jersey's contention that "[t]he required finding of biased purpose is not an 'element' of a distinct hate crime offense, but rather the traditional 'sentencing factor' of motive," and calling this argument "nothing more than a disagreement with the rule we apply today"); id., at 494, n. 19 ("[W]hen the term 'sentence enhancement' is used to describe an increase beyond the maximum authorized statutory sentence, it is the functional equivalent of an element of a greater offense than the one covered by the jury's guilty verdict."); id., at 495 ("[M]erely because the state legislature placed its hate crime sentence enhancer within the sentencing provisions of the criminal code does not mean that the finding of a biased purpose to intimidate is not an essential element of the offense." (internal quotation marks omitted)); see also id., at 501 (Thomas, J., concurring) ("[I]f the legislature defines some core crime and then provides for increasing the punishment of that crime upon a finding of some aggravating fact[,] . . . the core crime and the aggravating fact together constitute an aggravated crime, just as much as grand larceny is an aggravated form of petit larceny. The aggravating fact is an element of the aggravated crime.").

Even if facts increasing punishment beyond the maximum authorized by a guilty verdict standing alone ordinarily must be found by a jury, Arizona further urges, aggravating circumstances necessary to trigger a death sentence may nonetheless be reserved for judicial determination. As Arizona's counsel maintained at oral argument, there is no doubt that

concurring in judgment) ("[T]he Sixth Amendment permits judges to apply sentencing factors—whether those factors lead to a sentence beyond the statutory maximum (as in Apprendi) or the application of a mandatory minimum (as here).").


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