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BLAKELY v. WASHINGTON - 542 U.S. 296 (2004)

BLAKELY v. WASHINGTON

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF WASHINGTON

No. 02-1632. Argued March 23, 2004--Decided June 24, 2004

Petitioner pleaded guilty to kidnaping his estranged wife. The facts admitted in his plea, standing alone, supported a maximum sentence of 53 months, but the judge imposed a 90-month sentence after finding that petitioner had acted with deliberate cruelty, a statutorily enumerated ground for departing from the standard range. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting petitioner's argument 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.

Held: Because the facts supporting petitioner's exceptional sentence were neither admitted by petitioner nor found by a jury, the sentence violated his Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. Pp. 5-18.


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