Apprendi v. New Jersey

530 U.S. 466 (2000)


Apprendi (D) fired several rounds into the home of an African-American who had recently moved into an all-white neighborhood in Vineland, New Jersey. D was arrested and admitted that he was the shooter. D also made a statement that he knew the occupants were black and that he does not want them in the neighborhood, but he later retracted that statement. An indictment for four shootings and unlawful possession of firearms was returned but none of the 23 counts referred to the hate crime statute, and none alleged that D acted with a racially biased purpose. A plea agreement was entered for three of the counts, and the other 20 were dismissed. As part of the agreement, the State reserved the right to request the court to impose an enhanced sentence on count 18, which was based on the December 22nd shooting. D reserved the right to challenge the hate crime sentence enhancement on the ground that it violates the Constitution. At the plea hearing, the judge heard sufficient evidence to establish D’s guilt and then the judge confirmed that D understood the maximum sentences that could be imposed on these counts. The trial judge then held an evidentiary hearing on D’s purpose for the December 22nd shooting and D apparently took the stand himself and denied his statement to the police. The judge found against D, found by a preponderance of evidence that D acted with a purpose to intimidate, and held that the hate crime statute applied. D appealed.