After Trevor Reznik reported himself to the police (as a criminal who killed a kid by accident in a hit-and-run case), how much jail time is he going to serve?

I just need an assumption. I am from China and I'm not familiar with US laws.

1 Answer 1


The film 'The Machinist' was set in California. Given that another person was killed in the accident (a child, no less), and that Reznik is intending to make a full confession (e.g. that he was distracted by reaching for his cigarette lighter) it's reasonably likely that he would be facing a felony charge for the accident:

...the prosecutor may choose to try it as a misdemeanor or a felony ...usually depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

If felony hit and run is tried as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalties are a fine of between one thousand dollars ($1,000) and ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and/or up to one (1) year in county jail. If the accident resulted in a death or a permanent, serious injury, in most cases the defendant will need to serve at least ninety (90) days in jail.

But if it is prosecuted as a felony, felony hit and run carries penalties of a fine of between one thousand dollars ($1,000) and ten thousand dollars ($10,000)...plus sixteen (16) months to three (3) years in state prison. If someone (other than the defendant) was killed or suffered a permanent, serious injury in the accident, the state prison sentence rises to two (2) to four (4) years. - SHOUSE CALIFORNIA LAW GROUP

So the best guess is that with a full confession and a guilty plea, he'd probably be serving the lower end of that sentence (2 years). Assuming he then demonstrated "good conduct", he would get a discount on his sentence of around 1-200 days, meaning that he would be out of jail in around one and a half years.

  • Obviously, he might end up with a judge that hates him and a crap lawyer and have to serve the full four years.
    – user7812
    Nov 22, 2015 at 18:09
  • Didn't he go on without confessing for a long time though? That'd work against him. Nov 25, 2015 at 23:37
  • @Andrew - Yes, it would almost certainly result in the prosecution seeking a felony charge. Beyond that, his abject confession and pathetic willingness to seek absolution would go down very well in court.
    – user7812
    Nov 25, 2015 at 23:41

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