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Blackledge v. Allison

Case Name
Blackledge v. Allison
431 U.S. 63
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Potter Stewart
Judge(s) - Majority
William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Lewis Powell
Judge(s) - Concur
Lewis Powell, Warren Burger
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
4th Circuit
Decision Year
Sentencing Differential (Maximum Exposure)
Sentencing Differential (Minimum Offered or Received)
10 years
Sentencing Differential Size


A state grand jury indicted the Defendant for breaking and entering, attempted safe robbery, and possession of burglary tools. The defendant accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to a single count of attempted safe robbery. Pursuant to state procedures, the presiding judge read the Defendant several questions to verify the voluntariness of the Defendant’s plea. The Defendant was then sentenced to 17-21 years in prison. The Defendant appealed, arguing that his guilty plea was invalid because it was involuntary. The Defendant asserted that his attorney assured him that if he pled guilty he would receive the minimum prison sentence of 10 years for his attempted safe robbery charge. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that the Defendant was “entitled to a careful consideration and plenary processing of his claim including full opportunity for presentation of the relevant fact.” If allegations that the Defendant made were deemed true, the Defendant had grounds for relief because, under Santobello, the Court held that “an unkept bargain which [] induced a guilty plea is grounds for relief.”

Key Quote

“Whatever might be the situation in an ideal world, the fact is that the guilty plea and the often concomitant plea bargain are important components of this country’s criminal justice system. Properly administered, they can benefit all concerned.” p.71