Chapter 9.94A RCW
Aggravating circumstances -- Sentences above standard range.
(1) At any time prior to trial or entry of the guilty plea if substantial rights of the defendant are not prejudiced, the state may give notice that it is seeking a sentence above the standard sentence range. The notice shall state aggravating circumstance upon which the requested sentence will be based.
(2) The facts supporting aggravating circumstances shall be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury’s verdict on the aggravating factor must be unanimous, and by special interrogatory. If a jury is waived, proof shall be to the court beyond a reasonable doubt, unless the defendant stipulates to the aggravating facts.
(3) Evidence regarding any facts supporting aggravating circumstances under RCW 9.94A.535(3)(a) through (y), shall be presented to the jury during the trial of the alleged crime, unless the state alleges the aggravating circumstances listed in RCW 9.94A.535(3)(e)(iv), (h)(i), (o) or (t). If one of these aggravating circumstances is alleged, the trial court may conduct a separate proceeding if the evidence supporting the aggravating fact is not part of the res gestae of the charged crime, if the evidence is not otherwise admissible in trial of the charged crime, and if the court finds that the probative value of the evidence to the aggravated fact is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect on the jury’s ability to determine guilt or innocence for the underlying crime.
(4) If the court conducts a separate proceeding to determine the existence of aggravating circumstances, the proceedings shall immediately follow the trial on the underlying conviction, if possible. If any person who served on the jury is unable to continue, the court shall substitute an alternate juror.
(5) If the jury finds, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, one or more of the facts alleged by the state in support of an exceptional sentence, the court may sentence the offender pursuant to RCW 9.94A.535 to a term of confinement up to the maximum allowed under RCW 9A.20.021 for the underlying conviction if it finds, considering the purposes of the chapter, that the facts found are substantial and compelling reasons justifying an exceptional sentence.
[2005 c 68 § 4]
Intent -- 2005 c 68: “The legislature intends to conform the sentencing reform act, chapter 9.94A. RCW, to comply with the ruling in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. … (2004). In that case, the United States supreme court held that a criminal defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to have a jury determine beyond a reasonable doubt any aggravating fact, other than the fact of a prior conviction, that is used to impose greater punishment than the standard range or standard conditions. The legislature intends that aggravating facts, other than the fact of a prior conviction, will be placed before the jury. The legislature intends that the sentencing court will then decide whether or not the aggravating fact is a substantial and compelling reason to impose greater punishment. The legislature intends to create a new criminal procedure for imposing greater punishment than the standard range or conditions and to codify existing common law aggravating factors, without expanding or restricting existing statutory of common law aggravating circumstances. The legislature does not intend the codification of common law aggravating factors to expand or restrict currently available statutory or common law aggravating circumstances. The legislature does not intend to alter how mitigating facts are to be determined under the sentencing reform act, and thus intends that mitigating facts will be found by the sentencing court by a preponderance of the evidence.
While the legislature intends to bring the sentencing reform act into compliance as previously indicated, the legislature recognizes the need to restore judicial discretion that has been limited as a result of the Blakely decision.” [2005 c 68 § 1]
Effective date and severability-- 2005 c 68: See notes following RCW 9.94A.530.
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