Jeopardy Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Jeopardy, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Jeopardy?

It refers to the danger or peril in particular for the crime for which he/she is going to be charged and tried and close to being convicted.

History and Meaning of Jeopardy

The term "jeopardy" is commonly used in legal contexts and specifically refers to the potential danger or risk faced by a defendant who is being charged with a crime and is in danger of being convicted. The term has its roots in the Old French word "jeu parti," which means "divided game" or "even chance."

In modern legal usage, the concept of "double jeopardy" is most commonly associated with jeopardy. Double jeopardy refers to the constitutional prohibition against a defendant being tried twice for the same crime, once they have been acquitted or convicted of that crime. It is seen as a fundamental protection of individual rights against the arbitrary exercise of state power.

Examples of Jeopardy

  • A defendant in a criminal case faces the jeopardy of a conviction and the possibility of imprisonment or other criminal penalties.
  • A person who has been charged with a crime but has not yet gone to trial may still be said to be in legal jeopardy.
  • If a prosecutor brings a case against a defendant that has already been dismissed, the prosecutor may be said to be putting the defendant in double jeopardy.
  • In some cases, a person's liberty or property may be in jeopardy due to a civil lawsuit, rather than a criminal charge.

Legal Terms Similar to Jeopardy

  • Double Jeopardy: The concept that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime.
  • Acquittal: A legal determination that a defendant is not guilty of the charges brought against them.
  • Conviction: A legal determination that a defendant is guilty of the charges brought against them.