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Blakely v. Washington

United States Supreme Court
542 U.S. 296 (2004)



Blakely (defendant) was charged with first-degree kidnapping. After reaching a plea agreement, the prosecutor reduced Blakely’s charge to second-degree kidnapping. Washington’s Sentencing Reform Act specified a “standard range” sentence for second-degree kidnapping with a firearm as 49 to 53 months imprisonment. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the prosecutor recommended a sentence within the standard range; however, the judge rejected the recommendation and imposed an “exceptional sentence” of 90 months on the ground that Blakely had acted with “deliberate cruelty.” Blakely objected to the higher sentence and a three-day bench trial was held where the judge issued 32 findings of fact and reiterated his position that Blakely had acted with “deliberate cruelty.” Blakely appealed, arguing that the sentencing procedure deprived him of his federal constitutional right to have a jury determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, all facts legally essential to his sentence, specifically that he had acted with “deliberate cruelty.” The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

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