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The only person we know who was expelled from Hogwarts was Hagrid and his transgression was quite big:

He allegedly did open the Chamber of Secrets

Harry was threatened several times to be expelled but it never came to that, even when he broke the rules for not doing magic during summer vacation time.

So - what does it take to get expelled?

Background of the question:

Actually being expelled from Hogwarts is quite the disaster for a wizard/witch. The ability to use magic is comparable to the ability to read/write for Muggles - a very core skill that is needed for practically any profession in the magical world.

A Muggle who is expelled from school could just join another school and finish his/her education. Expulsion from Hogwarts results in your wand being broken and you are forbidden to do magic for the rest of your life.

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In general

Students can be expelled if they

  • hurt someone
  • perform magic outside of school (especially in front of Muggles) twice (first time, they receive a warning letter).

Umbridge

Under Dolores Umbridge’s tenure, several extra activities were added to this list:

  • starting or participating in an unauthorised organisation
  • carrying The Quibbler inside the school.

Post-expulsion

The expelled student’s wand is confiscated until their guilt is proven. Once it is, the wand is destroyed.

enter image description here Educational decree n27

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  • 2
    Do we actually know from anywhere that doing magic in the presence of Muggles results in expulsion in general? It is a breach of the International Statute of Secrecy, and therefore the law; but the only canon reference we have is that expulsion from Hogwarts is up to the Headmaster, not the Ministry of Magic (read: Dolores Umbridge), and I don't believe I've ever seen any cases where a Headmaster has chosen to expel a student for performing magic outside school. I don't believe there is such a rule. As for ‘hurting someone’… well, that seems to happen quite routinely at Hogwarts! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 18 '16 at 16:24
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    The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Under age Sorcery allows for the expulsion of students regardless of Muggle awareness or not. (see Mafalda Hopkirk's notice to Harry in Chamber of Secrets). Later - Harry was actually expelled by Fudge for his (Harry's) use of the Patronus during the summer (Order of the Phoenix). These instances reveal that it is under the legal purview of the Ministry to expell as well in accordance with the law. – NKCampbell Feb 18 '16 at 17:02
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    @NKCampbell Your comment inspired me to ask specifically whether or not the Ministry can expel students, since first Fudge and then at the hearing also the entire Wizengamot accept Dumbledore’s statement that expelling students is not within the legal purview of the Ministry. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 18 '16 at 18:58
  • Ok but that's only part of the story. Snape said several times that he would have expelled Harry if he was in his house. Are these threats real or just another way to make Harry feel bad? – vap78 Feb 19 '16 at 13:16
  • So the only important things are not to hurt anyone and not perform magic outside of school. So if the students don't study, fail all the O.W.L.S and have terrible marks, they don't get expelled? – Elisa Elisija Oct 12 '17 at 10:13
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Doing magic out of school enough times.

When Harry was thought to have done magic outside of Hogwarts, he received a letter warning that doing further magic outside of Hogwarts could get him expelled.

Dear Mr Potter, We have received intelligence that a Hover Charm was used at your place of residence this evening at twelve minutes past nine.

As you know, underage wizards are not permitted to perform spells outside school, and further spellwork on your part may lead to expulsion from said school (Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage sorcery, 1875, Paragraph C).

We would also ask you to remember that any magical activity which risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offence, under section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 2 (Dobby’s Warning)

Breaking this rule too many times is likely to result in expulsion.

Leading another student to a werewolf.

Snape tells Harry that if James Potter and his friends were successful in their prank, they would have been expelled.

“Then let me correct you – your saintly father and his friends played a highly amusing joke on me that would have resulted in my death if your father hadn’t got cold feet at the last moment. There was nothing brave about what he did. He was saving his own skin as much as mine. Had their joke succeeded, he would have been expelled from Hogwarts.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape’s Grudge)

The prank he referred to was leading him to where Lupin was in werewolf form at the time.

Endangering human life with creatures.

Though Hagrid was innocent, the reason for his expulsion was that he was thought to have caused the death of another student with a creature he kept in Hogwarts.

“Riddle stepped closer.

‘It’s all over,’ he said. ‘I’m going to have to turn you in, Rubeus. They’re talking about closing Hogwarts if the attacks don’t stop.’

‘What d’yeh –’

‘I don’t think you meant to kill anyone. But monsters don’t make good pets. I suppose you just let it out for exercise and –’

‘It never killed no one!’ said the large boy, backing against the closed door. From behind him, Harry could hear a funny rustling and clicking.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)

Also, Newt was almost expelled over an incident involving a Jarvey endangering human life.

OFFENCE: Illegal possession of a magical beast causing endangerment of human life and violation of Animal Welfare Laws 101/304.
-The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Though Newt was found to be innocent, presumably someone actually guilty of this would be expelled.

NOTES: Proposed expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry due to the illegal possession of a magical beast causing endangerment of human life and violation of animal welfare laws 101/304.

Magical Beast: Jarvey, Level 3

Punishment: Expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

– The expulsion was never enforced - Hogwarts Professor Albus Dumbledore defended Newton resulting in his name being cleared.

– The Ministry of Magic Animal Welfare Department were also informed of the violation and required to rehouse the magical creature.
-The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The reason Newt was not expelled was because he was found innocent, not because the crime was not severe enough.

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