I'm having trouble to understand the following sentences, from a book called It's from a book called 'Doing Justice', by Preet Bharara (not a web page).

1) The issue was clear, though the answer was not: Do we pursue the letter of the law, the clearly applicable and fitting mandatory minimum statute and arguably undermine justice by jeopardizing the conviction at trial and visit more suffering upon the kidnap victim? Or do we permit a plea to a different subsection and arguably undermine justice by allowing the possibility of a too- light sentence?


=> I'm not sure the meaning of 'jeopardizing the conviction at trial' (In this sentence, 'we' is 'prosecutors')

2) Rubio was given time served, which amounted to just about six years in federal prison, with another three years pending on an unrelated fifteen-year state charge.

=> I know that if he is convicted for another crime, he could go back to jail for another three years. But I have no idea what 'fifteen-year state charge' means.

Please make it clear for me. Thanks.

  • 1
    Hello. I've attempted an answer. But please add the source of these quotes. Where did you read them? Can you provide a link? Please edit the link into your question.
    – James K
    Feb 9, 2020 at 8:02
  • I've added google books links. These provide intersting context. The second quote is not related to the first case. The first case is a famous one, a woman who kidnapped a child and brought her up as her own.
    – James K
    Feb 9, 2020 at 9:34
  • 1
    In the future remember you can always edit your own questions. Don't use the comments to add extra information.
    – James K
    Feb 9, 2020 at 9:38
  • Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. Feb 9, 2020 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


The sense here is "put (the conviction) at significant risk (of not happening)" If you put something in jeopardy, there is a high probability of major damage to the thing.

A conviction is "put in jeopardy" when there is a high probability that the court will not convict the person. Here it seems that there is a law that demands a (20 year) prison sentence for a particular crime (and the judge can't change it). The prosecutor knows that the jury will think that the crime is not "worth" 20 years, and so, even if they jury thinks the person committed the crime, the jury will choose to acquit rather than put a person in jail for 20 years.

The prosecutor thinks that charging the person with the actual crime they committed would mean that there is a high probability that the jury will not convict. So the conviction would be put in jeopardy.

The actual case referred to here is a famous one: Ann Pettway, who kidnapped a 3 week old baby, and raised her as her own child for 23 years.

(For the final part, remember that the USA has federal law and state law. Rubio had broken a federal law [kidnapping] and also some other state law. The state law also had a 15-year maximum sentence)

  • Thank you for the detailed explanation! It's from a book called 'Doing Justice', not a web page. You are really helpful. Feb 9, 2020 at 9:20

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