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Blakely Waiver (Legal Definition: All You Need To Know)

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What does a Blakely waiver mean?

Why is this type of waiver so important?

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Let me explain to you the meaning of a Blakely Waiver in simple terms!

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What Is A Blakely Waiver 

A Blakely waiver refers to the waiver, by a criminal defendant, of the right to a trial on sentencing factors during plea negotiations.

In other words, the criminal defendant waives his or her right to a jury trial or court trial on sentencing factors and accepts the judge’s decision on the existence of sentencing factors.

The term Blakely Waiver comes from the matter Blakely v. Washington, 2004 WL 1402697 (June 24, 2004) where the US Supreme Court rendered a judgment applying the Apprendi Rule to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In essence, the Supreme Court invalidated Washington State’s sentencing guideline system on the basis of the Sixth Amendment that imposed a stricter sentence on the criminal defendant on the basis of facts found by the court at sentencing.

Now, a Blakely “waiver” refers to the defendant’s waiver of his or her right to have a jury make the determination of facts relevant to the application of any type of Sentencing Guideline factors that a judge may consider.

The waiver ensures that the defendant was made aware of the rule that any factors having an upward impact on the sentencing could be submitted to a jury but the defendant accepts that the judge makes the determination. 

Blakely v Washington of 2004

In the matter Blakely v Washington, the defendant was found guilty of kidnapping by the Washington State.

According to Washington’s standard sentencing guidelines, the defendant should have received 49 to 53 months for the crime.

However, the guidelines provided that if there were substantial and compelling reasons justifying an exceptional sentence, the court may impose a stricter sentence.

The judge used this authority to impose a 90-month sentence on Blakely.

However, the Supreme Court found that Blakely’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated as the judge made the findings rather than a jury and then justified a higher sentence.

In Blakely, the Supreme Court made reference to the Apprendi rule stating that any fact other than a prior conviction that would result in a penalty for a crime beyond the statutory maximum should be presented to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Blakely Waiver Example

Let’s look at an example of a Blakely waiver example that a criminal defendant may use.

A typical waiver can be drafted as follows:

I hereby waive my Blakely and Apprendi rights to have a jury the determination of any and all facts related to the application of the sentencing guidelines and consider any and all aggravating and/or mitigating factors for sentencing

Blakely Law And Waiver Takeaways 

So what is Blakely Waiver?

How does the Blakely finding work?

In the matter Blakely v. Washington, the judge imposes a stricter sentence on Blakely by applying Washington State’s sentencing guidelines as the judge considered there was substantial and compelling reasons justifying an exceptional sentence to be imposed.

However, in 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States considered that Washington’s standard sentencing guidelines violated the Constitution as the judge made determinations of facts justifying a stricter sentence instead of a jury violating Blakely’s Sixth Amendment rights.

In essence, criminal defendants must be given the opportunity to submit any facts that may lead to a stricter punishment to a jury for determination and sentencing.

To allow a judge to make the determination of factors that may lead to increased or enhanced sentencing but without violating the defendant’s constitutional rights, a Blakely waiver is required.

With the waiver, the defendant waives his or her right to a Blakely trial and accepts that the judge factual determinations relevant to the application of any sentencing guidelines.

I hope I was able to explain to you what a Blakely Waiver means and why it’s so important.

Good luck!

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Understanding Blakely Waiver

  • A Blakely Waiver is named after the criminal defendant Blakely in the matter Blakely vs Washington
  • A “Blakely Waiver” is when a criminal defendant waives his or her right to a jury determining facts that may increase or have an upward impact on sentencing 
  • In the Blakely vs Washington case, a judge considered certain facts and applied a stricter sentence but this was found to violate the defendant’s constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment
  • The Sixth Amendment grants criminal defendants the right to have a trial by an impartial jury 
Apprendi rule 
Breach of waiver
Defense of waiver 
Equity waiver
Harvey waiver 
Irrevocable waiver
Karon waiver 
Statutory maximum sentence
What is a jury
What is a jury trial 
What is indictment
What is mandatory sentencing
What is plea waiver
What is presentence report
What is sentencing guideline 
What is Sixth Amendment 
What is superseding indictment
Actus reus 
Beyond reasonable doubt 
Comparative negligence
Criminal lawyer 
Culpable negligence 
Dangerous driving
Depraved indifference 
Felony vs misdemeanor 
Gross negligence 
Indictable offense 
Jail vs prison 
Mala prohibita 
Mens rea
Preponderance of evidence
Specific deterrence
Strict liability
Summary offense

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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