He used, at least, one Unforgivable Curse: The Imperius Curse (Imperio).

Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody): "But first, which of you can tell me how many Unforgivable Curses there are?"

Hermione Granger: "Three, sir."

Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody): "And they are so named?"

Hermione Granger: "Because they are unforgivable. The use of any one of them will...."

Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody): "Earn you a one-way ticket to Azkaban. Correct. Now, the Ministry says you are too young to see what these curses do. I say different! You need to know what you're up against! You need to be prepared..."

— 1994 Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson

Not to mention that he tried to kill Albus Dumbledore and Ron Weasley. And I bet he has done a lot more, which wasn't mentioned directly in the books. Not to forget that he was a Death Eater.

So I am wondering how he can become a father and raise a kid, where we are meeting him, sending his boy to Hogwarts.

  • 15
    Harry, Ron, and Hermione all used Imperio as well (at least Harry and Hermione did—can't remember if we know for sure whether Ron did). Harry used Crucio as well, though not very successfully. A lot of ‘minor’ offences were probably forgiven after the Battle of Hogwarts, and I doubt they'd be too eager to put away more wizardkind than they had to—plenty of real Death Eaters to choose from without going for the ones that actually do show some remorse. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 5:12
  • 4
    When did Draco use the Imperius Curse? I thought he had used the Cruciatus Curse?
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 5:15
  • 2
    @Jonah Madam Rosmerta.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 6:42
  • 8
    Azkaban is evil. Brutally so. I wouldn't be surprised if the "new government" abolished it entirely. Apart from that, justice tends to be a tricky thing in an all-out war. Whose use of deathly curses is right? Both sides used them quite a bit, and there's likely not a lot of direct evidence to sustain charges against most of the perpetrators. "He's totes a Deatheater!" isn't a very good way of handling criminal proceedings. And of course, it would break the story of Draco's redemption, so... :)
    – Luaan
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 8:37
  • 6
    @Luaan JKR said that the new government simply kicked out Dementors, but didn't abolish Azkaban (pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/azkaban). However, you're right in that the new government wouldn't handle criminal proceedings so lightly. Since there was no proof that Draco willingly killed anyone, and since there was probably no witness of the Imperius Curse on Madam Rosmerta (except maybe Harry Potter), they couldn't bring Draco in Azkaban.
    – A. Darwin
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 9:08

3 Answers 3


Because he was forced into it

Draco was basically forced to take on the responsibilities of his father, the responsibilities of a Death Eater (which Lucius and Narcissa seemingly did not want for him). Voldemort wished to punish Lucius for his failure to obtain the prophecy from the Department of Mysteries. By giving Draco a task to difficult for him to succeed, Lucius would either have to watch his son die at the hands of the order, or at the hands of Voldemort:

“Draco should be proud,” said Bellatrix indifferently. “The Dark Lord is granting him a great honor. And I will say this for Draco: He isn’t shrinking away from his duty, he seems glad of a chance to prove himself, excited at the prospect —”

Narcissa began to cry in earnest, gazing beseechingly all the while at Snape.

“That’s because he is sixteen and has no idea what lies in store! Why, Severus? Why my son? It is too dangerous! This is vengeance for Lucius’s mistake, I know it!”

Snape said nothing. He looked away from the sight of her tears as though they were indecent, but he could not pretend not to hear her.

“That’s why he’s chosen Draco, isn’t it?” she persisted. “To punish Lucius?”

Draco believed that if he failed Voldemort in this task, Voldemort would kill him, and his family, to punish them for their failure.

“I haven’t got any options!” said Malfoy, and he was suddenly white as Dumbledore. “I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!”

Because he may not have committed many murders or other crimes compared to the other Death Eaters

As far as I can tell, Draco personally killed no one.Voldemort had intended him to kill Dumbledore, or at least attempt to do so, but Snape eventually performed that deed. He did let Death Eaters into the castle, under the threat of violence, and tortured a fellow Death Eater (Rowle), under similar duress. He also used the Imperius curse in another ill-fated attempt to kill Dumbledore, controlling Madame Rosmerta and (indirectly) Katie Bell, as well as employing the crude recourse of poison.

The only individual who died as a result of that first action was Dumbledore, who undoubtedly had been revealed to have planned his death with Snape.

So strictly speaking, Draco may not have killed anyone, and I see no evidence that he ever planned to really follow through on doing so. His first attempts did not end in anyone's death, and not precisely by sheer good fortune but rather by design.

“Oh yes, I do,” said Dumbledore mildly. “You almost killed Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley. You have been trying, with increasing desperation, to kill me all year. Forgive me, Draco, but they have been feeble attempts. . . . So feeble, to be honest, that I wonder whether your heart has been really in it.”

Draco's first two murder attempts turned out much worse than they should have, if the items had made it to Dumbledore. Dumbledore most likely would have checked his mead for poison, if he cared to drink it at all. Had he received the package, even assuming he would open such an obviously suspicious item, he would certainly have recognized Dark Magic upon it as soon as he opened it. Dumbledore's assessment is likely correct: Draco could not commit himself to any course of action that he really believed would kill Dumbledore.

Yes, he did torture Rowle, but I doubt the Ministry cared about intra-Death-Eater violence. By contrast, virtually all the other Death Eaters seem to have killed at least once.

Because he and his family defected from the Death Eaters (kind of)

Lucius and Narcissa basically gave up on Voldemort by the end.

He saw Ron and Neville bringing down Fenrir Greyback, Aberforth Stunning Rookwood, Arthur and Percy flooring Thicknesse, and Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy running through the crowd, not even attempting to fight, screaming for their son.

So did Draco (by inaction):

Malfoy and Goyle remained slumped hopelessly on the corridor floor; neither of them had wands. “Let’s stick together. I say we go—Harry, what’s that on your arm?”

Because the Malfoys had money and power

According to the author,

J.K. Rowling: No, the Malfoys weaseled their way out of trouble (again) due to the fact that they colluded (albeit out of self-interest) with Harry at the end of the battle.

Lucius did something similar after the first Wizarding War in Britain.

  • +1, though I disagree with the very first statement. I don't believe Voldemort ever intended for Draco to succeed (nor does Snape), much less replace his father in the inner circle of Death Eaters. Draco was meant to fail and be killed by Voldemort as Lucius' punishment. Even after succeeding(-ish), he's not really much better off in book 7 than before in Voldy's ranks. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 6:29
  • 3
    Oh, I never meant to imply that Voldemort intended Draco to succeed. Snape says that very clearly in Book 7. Rather, I meant to imply the important (and dangerous) tasks that otherwise would have fallen to Lucius were put on Draco's shoulders, as punishments for his father's errors. I'll edit it to make that clear.
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 7:45

Malfoy's part in helping Harry survive and defeat Voldemort led to his avoiding imprisonment. This was touched upon in a post-Deathly Hallows Bloomsbury web chat:

Georgina: Did Lucius Malfoy, and all the other escaped Death Eaters, go back to Azkaban?

JKR: No, the Malfoys weaseled their way out of trouble (again) due to the fact that they colluded (albeit out of self-interest) with Harry at the end of the battle.

It's likely that Harry, who went on to become an influential dark-wizard catcher, was willing to offer Draco a second chance (seeing as he even offered Voldemort a second chance). Harry's forgiving attitude toward Draco presumably contributed to Draco not being imprisoned.

It should be pointed out that Draco was being coerced by Voldemort when he attempted to kill Dumbledore:

DUMBLEDORE: Years ago, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices. Please let me help you.

MALFOY: I don’t want your help. Don’t you understand? I have to do this. I have to kill you… or he’s gonna kill me.

Kudos to alexwlchan for their excellent answer to What happened to the Death Eaters?

  • 3
    “When he killed Dumbledore”? Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 5:13
  • 2
    Years ago, a boy who made all the wrong choices ? I thought he was talking about young Tom Riddle but it now seems that he's talking about more than one boy.
    – Pwassonne
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 9:14
  • Is the quoted dialogue from the film? Seeing how often books and films contradict each other, you should state the source.
    – chirlu
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 9:44

In addition to the reaons listed above

Because he was underage?

Wasn't the youngest prisoner in Azkaban Barty Crouch, who was 18-19 at the time of Karakoff's trial? As for crimes committed by minors (and even of students who are of age), it seems their punishment is the responsibility of the headmaster. Fudge tried to change that during his dark Chamberlain period, but without much success.

There's no evidence of prisoners in Azkaban who comitted crimes while underage. And really, what are the chances they'd ever put in Azkaban a kid who (for whatever reason) used one of the unforgivables?

Say, after fake Moody's lesson an intellectually curious Ravenclaw student tries out the imperio just to understand better the mechanics of the spell. Who would accuse him and put him in Azkaban for that? It seems from the books that those laws only enforced when the caster caused serious damage or death.

Besides, other child soldiers (Harry, Hermione) also did imperio during the war, so what now, the judges will selectively persecute just one of them?

The only unforgivable that probably would've landed Draco in Azkaban is a successful AvadaK. Anything else a minor would probably get away with, even with attempted murder (Harry- sectumsempra, Sirius-werewolf joke). Only if you manage to kill someone you get some reaction out of the ministry. And even that. .. In Hagrid's case, though he was expelled for causing the death of a fellow student and his wand broken, he wasn't imprisoned. Dumbledore wasnt able to convince the ministry of his innocence, so in the ministry's eyes he was still guilty of unintentional homicide but he wasn't put in jail - in fact he remained in school grounds.

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