OCTOBER TERM, 2003
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
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 find-
ing 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 argu-
ment that the sentencing procedure deprived him of his federal con-
stitutional 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.
(a) This case requires the Court to apply the rule of Apprendi v.
New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466, 490, that, “[o]ther than the fact of a prior
conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the
prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and
proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” The relevant statutory maxi-
mum for Apprendi purposes is the maximum a judge may impose
based solely on the facts reflected in the jury verdict or admitted by
the defendant. Here, the judge could not have imposed the 90-month
sentence based solely on the facts admitted in the guilty plea, be-
cause Washington law requires an exceptional se