Study: How Much Jail Time Would You Get For GTA V Crimes IRL?

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Pack your bags and kiss your momma goodbye, because you’ll be going away for a looong time!

The Grand Theft Auto series has taken the world by storm, but it’s the franchise’s latest installment that has proved most popular. With 170 million copies sold since its launch in 20131, Grand Theft Auto Five (GTA V) is the second best-selling videogame of all time2.

However, the series does have a history of controversy, with adult themes and extreme use of crime – from driving tanks down city streets to jaywalking, to assault and vehicular homicide. And yes, grand theft auto too. This has resulted in certain games from the franchise being censored or even banned outright in some countries.

But have you ever thought about the real life consequences of these crimes? What would the total punishment be for just an hour of average gameplay on the latest Grand Theft Auto game?

We decided to answer that very question, and put GTA V to the test!
We conducted a study of 1,000 gamers aged 18+, observing their virtual actions during 30 minutes of GTA V’s storyline campaign and 30 minutes of online multiplayer gameplay, to discover how many crimes were being committed on average.


The Results: USA

The crime-filled sandbox game is set in a fictional US state, based on Southern California and Los Angeles3, so we recorded and compared crimes committed during gameplay to the California Penal Code, in order to determine the average jail sentence and total fines.

We knew it would most likely be a hefty amount of time, but we were blown away at the final result: a whopping 4,160 years, 11 months and 15 days!

In 4,160 years, you could...

During the study, players committed 349 crimes on average within a single hour of gameplay – that’s 5.8 crimes per minute – with capital murder recorded as the most popular crime in the game. Running a red light was the second most prominent violation of the law, with an average of 40 offences during a single hour, totaling $4,000 in fines. Other vehicle-related offences included dangerous driving, carjacking, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Vandalism completed the list of the top three offences. From knocking over road signs to firing a rocket launcher at a building, the destruction or damage of property accounted for more than $50,000 of the total recorded fines.

As the old saying goes, ‘crime doesn’t pay’, and it’s pretty accurate in this case!

After just one hour of typical gameplay, GTA V players would receive an average of $95,526 in fines and criminal damages, as well as eight hours of community service, if they were to be charged in real life.


The Results: UK

Rockstar Games – the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series – was founded in Scotland and later moved to New York City4. With this in mind, we thought it would also be interesting to see how players would fare if they were prosecuted back in Britain.

We compared the crimes committed during our GTA V study to British law, and found that players would go to prison for 164 years, plus 112 life sentences, after just one hour of gameplay.

But that’s not all. British players would also be fined £101,550 and receive 438 points on their driving licence – resulting in a permanent ban from driving – if they were charged in real life.

Of course, the laws in the United States and United Kingdom differ slightly, and as a result, there were an additional 24 violations against California’s Penal Code. When compared to British Law, players committed 325 crimes on average within a single hour – 5.4 crimes per minute.


If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime

Recent leaks surrounding the highly anticipated, yet unfinished, Grand Theft Auto Six (GTA VI) certainly sparked our interest around the criminal nature of the franchise – and how long gamers could actually spend in prison if their crimes were committed in real life.

We hope this helps gamers see that crime really doesn’t pay. So if you are planning a big bank heist in the near future, keep it to your own home and controller!





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