An episode of Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 3, Shut Up and Dance, presents what seems like an interesting legal scenario, at least to me (NAL).

A kid's computer gets a virus. Let's say he's 16. Someone records him masturbating to child porn via his webcam secretly, then blackmails him into going to a location. At the location he's given a cake, and told to bring it to another location, where another blackmailed accomplice joins him and they're told to go to another location where they find a bank.

I'm explaining this in order in case the vagueness of each instruction and timing is pertinent legally to the charges. As a side question, I'd be interested to know if these details, such as the way he originally didn't plan to rob a bank or kill someone, but each thing developed in a vicious cycle, would affect the charges.

They're then told to look inside the cake where they find a gun. The boy is told to rob the bank at gunpoint, he does it, and then leaves with the cash in the drawer.

Then they get to a drop point, the kid's told to bring the money out into a secluded patch of woods, where he finds another blackmailed man, and they're both instructed to fight to the death. The boy tries to shoot himself, but the gun isnt loaded, kills the man (after trying to run, so this actually appears to be in self defense), walks away and is soon chased down by cops after his location is reported by the blackmailers (who didnt care about the money) with the money on his person, and his masturbation video to child porn is released to the public also.

With the blackmail and not being an adult, it seems like an interesting legal scenario. What charges might this kid face? I live in the US, so I'm really interested in an answer for any state in the US, but the episode actually takes place in the UK, so an answer that covers UK law would be interesting as well!

  • 1
    You probably need to advise the age of the child, as this is an important element. They could probably be tried for murder - the blackmail might be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
    – davidgo
    Dec 3, 2016 at 6:57
  • 1
    @davidgo Lets say 16. Edited the question.
    – J.Todd
    Dec 3, 2016 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


Jurisdiction: Ohio.

What charges might this kid face?

Let's deal with each individually.

Possession of Child Pornography

Based on the facts contained in your narrative, the suspect is guilty of possession of child pornography. Here is the relevant code statute. (2907.323 Illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.)

There might or might not be a problem with the admissibility of the evidence under the circumstances. This defect can be cured if the prosecution obtains a search warrant for the suspect's computer as possession alone meets the statutory threshold.

Aggravated Robbery

In Ohio, aggravated robbery is not a strict liability (i.e., statutory) crime. Therefore, mens rea (mental state) of the offender can be a legal defense. In this case, the suspect can argue duress as an exculpatory and/or mitigating factor. Here is the relevant code section.


As you pointed out in your narrative, the facts suggest the suspect killed in self-defense and, therefore, is not guilty of murder.

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