This is the headline.
Teenager Sentenced to 14 Years to Life in Tessa Majors Murder
Why is the preposition to used in this case? I wonder if years of life would convey the same meaning.
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Because it isn’t “years of [her] life,” describing where the years are coming from—that’s implicit.
Instead, it’s a range: from a minimum of 14 years, to a maximum of “life,” that is, until the convict dies. The exact sentence may not have been decided yet (but will fall within that range, i.e. it will not be 3 years, and it won’t be 3 lifetimes), or perhaps the sentence is for life, but with opportunities for early release (known as parole) after at least 14 years.
In English, numerical ranges are generally read as “start to end,” where the start and end are the beginning and end of the range, respectively. For instance, “6-8 weeks,” spoken as “six to eight weeks,” refers to an amount of time that will be at least 6 weeks, but not more than 8 weeks (taken literally, anyway, but see here for idiomatic usage).
In the case of “14 years to life,” the start and end are not in the same units of measure: we have 14 years on one end of the range, but (implicitly 1) “life” on the other. But again, this is no different from saying, perhaps, “six months to a year,” referring to a duration between six months (half a year) and a year (twelve months).
Finally, it’s worth noting that the sentence “25 years to life,” often just “25 to life,” is the sentence for 1st-degree murder in the United States, at least on TV (e.g. Law & Order). As a result, “25 to life” has become slang for murder, or for being treated like a murderer (i.e. a criminal of the highest order). Eminem has a song and album with this title, there’s a video game, etc. etc. A statement like “I got 25 to life for that” might be used to say (in a context where discussing some relatively minor infraction) that the punishment for one’s actions are outrageously harsh, as harsh as they’d be for the much more serious crime of premeditated murder. May also be used in place of killing or murder any time those would be used as slang or hyperbole, e.g. “I’m gonna get 25 to life” might mean the same as “I’m gonna kill somebody.” (In most contexts such a statement would not be taken seriously, it is merely an expression of extreme frustration, displeasure, or anger.)
It's the expression they use in courts. Consider:
A parole proceeding is a hearing to determine whether an offender is suitable for release to parole supervision.
An example of a life sentence with the possibility of parole is when an offender is sentenced to serve a term of “15 years to life.” (source)
Basically, that means that after that particular number of years, the offender has the right to ask for a parole. The offender has a life sentence, but after 14 years in the case you speak about, that offender is allowed to ask the court to consider an earlier release.
Wikipedia restricts this use to the USA and explains:
The laws in the United States categorize life sentences as "determinate life sentences" or "indeterminate life sentences," the latter indicating the possibility of an abridged sentence, usually through the process of parole. For example, sentences of "15 years to life," "25 years to life," or "life with mercy" are called "indeterminate life sentences", while a sentence of "life without the possibility of parole" or "life without mercy" is called a "determinate life sentence".