So I watched Need For Speed the other day and was curious what the actual charges would be against Tobey as a result of that race? It seems like 180 days would be a bit short to me.

If you haven't seen it: [SPOILER ALERT]

The race starts off with Tobey and three other racers in non-street legal cars (or at least Tobey's is not street legal). As they start the race a sheriff helicopter flies in and starts reporting there whereabouts. During this whole race, several cop cars are destroyed (I believe at least 3 cop cars were destroyed), several of which likely resulted in major injury or death to the officers. In addition to all this, Tobey is wanted across multiple states and is on probation.

I know this is putting logic into a movie, but I was trying to explain to a kid that those things in real life would have very serious legal consequences. But then again, I could be completely wrong.

  • It's based on a video game, of course the story line is gonna lack reason. :o) – Johnny Bones Mar 21 '14 at 2:49
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    Note you start by asking about charges, and end up talking about the sentence he received (presumably) as a result of being found guilty of committing those charges. I suspect the charges would have included something like 'crossing a state line without the permission of of the parole officer' which would presumably result in parole being revoked. Then it becomes more complicated given the FBI would have stepped in as soon as they crossed a state line.. But yes, 180 days sounds ..optimistic. – Andrew Thompson Mar 21 '14 at 5:37
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    In real life the consequences would be much more severe. Unfortunately, I think question doesn't fit the site's guidelines (asking about legal advice). Not only that, it depends on who he is, his wealth, the state in which he performed the violations and the states in which he had warrants and the terms of his probation. – DustinDavis Mar 21 '14 at 16:44
  • @DustinDavis I cannot see in which way this is off-topic. While I'm personally not the biggest fan of realism-questions, those are perfectly on-topic. He's not asking about legal advice, but if the legal sentence he received in the movie bears any similarity to real life. Of course movies don't have to adhere to realistic rules, but without asking we don't know. While I agree that giving an accurate legal sentence is most probably not possible due to incomplete context, a rough comparison if the depicted legal consequences were in any way near reality should be possible. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 21 '14 at 18:38
  • @NapoleonWilson I do / did acknowledge the realism in a movie as well, but the real reason for asking was trying to portray to a youngn' that the actions in this movie have real consequences (so as to discourage any type of similar behavior when he gets older). But as I was saying this, I realized that I have no idea what the real world consequences might look like. Perhaps 180 days is accurate and it's just my personal opinion that it should be longer. – teynon Mar 21 '14 at 18:41

This is a pathetically inaccurate legal answer, but it should fit your purpose of getting an idea of the legal ramifications involved and suggesting some reasons as to why the sentence was so low.

Firstly, he violates parole in New York. According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision:

What happens when an offender violates his parole?

When a parole officer determines that an individual released to parole supervision may have violated the conditions of release, either by committing a new crime or failing to adhere to the conditions of release, the Parole Board's regulations provide for the issuing of a detainer warrant. If a warrant is issued, the releasee will be arrested and detained in a local jail awaiting the outcome of a parole violation hearing.

If the charges alleging a violation of parole are not sustained at the violation hearing, the warrant will be lifted and the releasee restored to supervision. If the violation charges are sustained, the releasee may be ordered returned to state prison for a duration of time to be determined by the Board of Parole, or referred to an alternative treatment facility - such as the Willard Drug Treatment Campus.

So it's likely he would have had a hearing and a possible prison sentence based on this violation.

He also causes criminal damage (in Nebraska I think). The link to the Nebraska state legislature wasn't working, but I took a look at Michigan laws instead, to get a rough idea:

Felony Willful & Malicious Destruction Laws

If any of the following apply to your case, you will face felony charges and a potential maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000 or three times the value of the damage, whichever is greater.

  1. The value of damage is greater than $20,000, or
  2. You have 2 or more prior convictions of malicious destruction.

You could face felony charges and up to 5 years in prison and fines reaching $10,000 or three times the value of the property damage, whichever is greater if any of the following apply to your offense:

  1. The value of damage is between $1,000 and $20,000, or
  2. You have one or more prior convictions of this offense.

So that's a rough indication as to the types of penal sentences possible.

WiseGeek did a brief article on sanctions for illegal street racing, which included a possibility of jail time for repeat offenders (as opposed to just impounding and fines for first timers).

As for the possible injury/death to police officers - as this is offscreen, we never see it or know much about it. I think for the purposes of the movie, and to promote Aaron Paul as the "goodie", we are expected to assume there was no serious injury. Unfortunately, this is a common trend in movies/tv series (think things like The Dark Knight, with Batman flipping police cars).

Ultimately, even assuming no major injury to officers, it appears there's a fair few sanctions he was facing and his jail sentence seems unduly lenient. So now on to the important question!

Why is his prison sentence lenient?

  1. He's the anti-hero. He's not a typical, breathtaking goody, but he's the guy we're meant to care about and thus he gets a happy ending. He gets put away, which shows the film-makers didn't just "forget" about his crimes, but they reduced the penal sentence to suggest he could get out at the end and live his life normally again. This is not that uncommon, e.g. Snake Eyes for example.

  2. This was discussed over at the IMDB thread for the movie, with someone suggesting "it's possible the real evidence of Dino being guilty could have helped him since he got 2 years for something he wasn't responsible for to begin with."

  3. It could be argued it is a nod to the Need for Speed game series, where drivers frequently get busted by police with no real consequence.

  4. Obviously, the most boring explanation but - it's a movie. Think of the endings to films like The Fast and the Furious and Gone in 60 Seconds. It all lets the good guy come out on top due to his "righteous" cause.

As stated at the start, the law presented here is very rough, but hopefully it provides some basis for your answer.

  • There is another point to this though, he would not have been charged for the violation of the parole as it could not occur once original charges were rescinded, also you have to remembered time severed wrongfully is not 1 day = 1 day, 1 day of freedom is worth more than 1 day of incarceration. and the last part that could have made a difference is for the state offences he could only be charged in the states the offences occurred and they would have to extradite him from one state to another to charge him. They could have done that but i don't think they did as he was still in California. – Martin Barker Jan 20 '17 at 22:55

First of all, all the parole and probation would have been dropped against him, because he uncovered the missing evidence (the Car) and 6 months is about right just for the illegal street racing charge and property damages Im sure he had to pay.


First of all, Im pretty sure there were a total of six cars in that race!

I'm guessing he got time served for being wrongfully sentenced before.


I'm assuming that as soon as they found the third Koenigsegg They dropped the parole as well as the charges, gave him a sentence of 2 years for street racing, and the sentence got shortened for good behavior as well as helping find evidence against Dino, the guy who killed Pete


He provided evidence that lead to them prosecuting deno and he served two years for something he didn't do so the charges seem fairly accurate to me

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