16

Of all the people we know, in the books, who were sent to Azkaban, the majority are Death Eaters (Dolohov, Lucius, Crouch Jr, Bellatrix and so on) or suspected to be involved with them (Sirius, Stan, et cetera). They were imprisoned for using the Unforgivable Curses, as well as for being accomplices of a seriously dark wizard.

What other crimes are Azkaban-worthy, in normal circumstances? I'm looking for anything that's been stated in the books, or on Pottermore (basically, anything 'canon'), or anything one can conclude from information in the books.

I think smaller crimes are punished by imposing a fine, but what about bigger ones? Surely murder and torture (i.e. crimes against humanity) aren't the only ones punishable by imprisonment? That certainly isn't the case in contemporary Muggle society.

My thoughts

Off the top of my head, I can name these crimes:

  • Being an unregistered Animagus1 That was what Hermione threatened Skeeter with.

  • Trespass and robbery2 That's how Sturgis Podmore was imprisoned.

Notes

  • Several of the arrests in the Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows were made by an authoritarian (if that's the right word on this case) government, in the time of war. They do not count as normal.

  • I don't mean that there should be an answer to this question, I was wondering if it was ever addressed in the books. I certainly don't expect a list of all people sent to Azkaban, and the reasons for doing so!


1 "Well, yes," said Hermione calmly, taking a sip of her drink. "Otherwise, as you very well know, I will inform the authorities that you are an unregistered Animagus. Of course, the Prophet might give you rather a lot for an insider's account of life in Azkaban."
The Beetle at Bay, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


2 Sturgis Podmore, 38, of number two, ... charged with trespass and robbery ... sentenced to six months in Azkaban.
Percy and Padfoot, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • @Raditz_35 I was wondering if there is any information regarding such crimes. – Harry Weasley Nov 6 '17 at 8:36
  • @Raditz_35 No, not that! Just a general idea of the crimes that could land one in Azkaban. I've edited my question, hope it helps! – Harry Weasley Nov 6 '17 at 8:42
  • Umbridge was sent to Azkaban for perversion of justice. Mungungus Fletcher never was prosecuted, despite doing a lot of (probably) unregistered illegal trading - the most he ever received was a warning. Hagrid didn't go to Azkaban despite being accused of raising a murderous giant spider. Seems like a pretty mixed bag. – The Dark Lord Nov 6 '17 at 8:55
  • 1
    @TheDarkLord Actually, Mundungus was sent to Azkaban in HP6, for impersonating an Imperius - but I anyway would exclude it as it mightn't have been fair. – Harry Weasley Nov 6 '17 at 9:00
  • Pirating HP movies, probably – Valorum Nov 6 '17 at 9:11
19

Crimes that can get an Azkaban sentence are certainly not limited to being involved with Dark wizards.

Crimes that get time in Azkaban without needing Dark wizards:

Letting a creature attack students at Hogwarts.

“They think, up at the school, that Hagrid’s been setting a – a – something on students. They’ve taken him to Azkaban.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 15 (Aragog)

Using any of the three Unforgivable Curses.

Using any of the three Unforgivable Curses is in itself enough to get a life sentence in Azkaban, even if they weren’t used by someone who was or was connected with a Dark wizard. Simply using one of them on someone is enough.

“Now … those three curses – Avada Kedavra, Imperius and Cruciatus – are known as the Unforgivable Curses. The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)

Defying the Ministry of Magic.

Arthur Weasley, who would know this kind of thing as a Ministry employee, says Dumbledore could get himself thrown in Azkaban for defying the Ministry if he keeps it up.

“But Dumbledore says he doesn’t care what they do as long as they don’t take him off the Chocolate Frog Cards,’ said Bill, grinning.

‘It’s no laughing matter,’ said Mr Weasley sharply. ‘If he carries on defying the Ministry like this he could end up in Azkaban, and the last thing we want is to have Dumbledore locked up.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)

Trespassing and attempted robbery at the Ministry of Magic.

Sturgis Podmore was convicted and sentenced to Azkaban for trespassing and attempted robbery. The article in the Daily Prophet says he was convicted on both charges, meaning both trespassing and attempted robbery are charges that can earn jail time.

“Sturgis Podmore, 38, of number two, Laburnum Gardens, Clapham, has appeared in front of the Wizengamot charged with trespass and attempted robbery at the Ministry of Magic on 31st August. Podmore was arrested by Ministry of Magic watchwizard Eric Munch, who found him attempting to force his way through a top-security door at one o’clock in the morning. Podmore, who refused to speak in his own defence, was convicted on both charges and sentenced to six months in Azkaban.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)

Enchanting items which would be used by Muggles.

Willy Widdershins was arrested for enchanting toilets to explode, though he was able to get out of the charge by giving Umbridge information on Harry.

“I was just reading about Willy Widdershins’s arrest when you arrived. You know Willy turned out to be behind those regurgitating toilets back in the summer? One of his jinxes backfired, the toilet exploded and they found him lying unconscious in the wreckage covered from head to foot in –”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)

However, he was caught committing another crime - selling Muggles biting doorknobs.

“George, be quiet!’ snapped Mrs Weasley.

‘Anyway,’ said Mr Weasley, in a raised voice, ‘this time Willy’s been caught selling biting doorknobs to Muggles and I don’t think he’ll be able to worm his way out of it because, according to this article, two Muggles have lost fingers and are now in St Mungo’s for emergency bone re-growth and memory modification. Just think of it, Muggles in St Mungo’s! I wonder which ward they’re in?”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)

Attacking Muggles, as well as attacking Ministry officials.

Morfin and Marvolo Gaunt were both charged with attacking Muggles. Marvolo got a longer sentence because he’d also injured Ministry employees while attempting to evade capture.

“Ogden Apparated back to the Ministry and returned with reinforcements within fifteen minutes. Morfin and his father attempted to fight, but both were overpowered, removed from the cottage and subsequently convicted by the Wizengamot. Morfin, who already had a record of Muggle attacks, was sentenced to three years in Azkaban. Marvolo, who had injured several Ministry employees in addition to Ogden, received six months.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)

Percival Dumbledore is also sentenced to Azkaban for attacking Muggles.

“Scarcely a year previously, his father, Percival, had been convicted of a savage and well-publicised attack upon three young Muggles. Albus never attempted to deny that his father (who was to die in Azkaban) had committed this crime; on the contrary, when I plucked up courage to ask him, he assured me that he knew his father to be guilty.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 2 (In Memoriam)

Murdering Muggles.

Morfin was arrested for murdering Muggles, and sent to Azkaban.

“So the Ministry called upon Morfin. They did not need to question him, to use Veritaserum or Legilimency. He admitted to the murder on the spot, giving details only the murderer could know. He was proud, he said, to have killed the Muggles, had been awaiting his chance all these years. He handed over his wand, which was proved at once to have been used to kill the Riddles. And he permitted himself to be led off to Azkaban without a fight.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)

Burglary (and possibly impersonating an Inferius).

Mundungus Fletcher was sent to Azkaban for attempting a burglary while impersonating an Inferius. It’s unclear if his Inferius impression worsened his crime, or if it was just an additional detail.

“Yes!’ said Hermione, causing both Harry and Ron to gag on their breakfast, ‘but it’s all right, he’s not dead – it’s Mundungus, he’s been arrested and sent to Azkaban! Something to do with impersonating an Inferius during an attempted burglary …” - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)*

Using accidental underage magic isn’t enough to be sent to Azkaban.

“I broke the law!’ Harry said. ‘The Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry!’

‘Oh, my dear boy, we’re not going to punish you for a little thing like that!’ cried Fudge, waving his crumpet impatiently. ‘It was an accident! We don’t send people to Azkaban just for blowing up their aunts!”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 3 (The Knight Bus)

  • 1
    That's quite thorough (as it usually is!), and addresses the point of my question! Thanks, I found it rather useful! (+1) – Harry Weasley Nov 6 '17 at 16:53
  • 1
    Maybe you need to differentiate what happened before the Ministry was overtaken by bad guys and after the Ministry was overtaken by bad guys. Especially when Fudge went crazy during Oder of the Phoenix. Or did that not affect any legislation? I would assume he’d pull up any laws that Dumbledore might be found guilty off so that he could send him to Azkaban straight away. – Narusan Nov 6 '17 at 19:48
  • @Narusan I had the thought of making that distinction too. But of course for Dumbledore it was rather foolish and naïve for Fudge to think they could arrest Dumbledore...And of course Umbridge thought that in little time they'd catch him but the O.W.L. examiner who saw Dumbledore in school suggested how doubtful that really was. The question then becomes: does the fact the Minister is defied in OotP count as a real crime or was it during the fear of Voldemort possibly (though they denied it) being back that caused it? Fear makes people do all sorts of things..crazy things too. – Pryftan Mar 29 '18 at 2:00
  • @Narusan And as Dumbledore points out to Fudge at the Ministry he already proved himself capable of taking down his Aurors and he'd be willing to do it again too. Fudge realises his foolishness though too late to save his job. – Pryftan Mar 29 '18 at 2:01
5

It appears to be the only wizarding prison in Great Britain and therefore any criminal convicted of any crime requiring a prison sentence will be sent there. The only problem is we never have a large enough sample size to determine what crimes constitute a prison sentence.

Azkaban has only been around since the wizards went underground.

Once the International Statute of Secrecy had been imposed, the Ministry of Magic felt that the small wizarding prisons that existed up and down the country in various towns and villages posed a security risk, because attempts by incarcerated witches and wizards to break out often led to undesirable bangs, smells and light shows.

Instead of building a new prison Azkaban was billed for the purpose.

Sadistic by nature, Rowle scrapped the plans for the new prison at once and insisted on using Azkaban. He claimed that the Dementors living there were an advantage: they could be harnessed as guards, saving the Ministry time, trouble and expense.

Once established the prison was kept open by its own "inertia".

By the time that Eldritch Diggory took over as Minister for Magic, the prison had been operating for fifteen years. There had been no breakouts and no breaches of security. The new prison seemed to be working well. It was only when Diggory went to visit that he realised exactly what conditions inside were like.

The only Minister to want to close it unexpectedly died and everyone else returned to the new status quo.

This advice notwithstanding, Diggory had been so horrified by what he had seen inside Azkaban that he pressed the committee to find alternatives. Before they could reach any decision, however, Diggory caught dragon pox and died. From that time until the advent of Kingsley Shacklebolt, no Minister ever seriously considered closing Azkaban. They turned a blind eye to the inhumane conditions inside the fortress, permitted it to be magically enlarged and expanded and rarely visited, due to the awful effects of entering a building populated by thousands of Dementors. Most justified their attitude by pointing to the prison’s perfect record at keeping prisoners locked up.

And even today Azkaban is still in use... just not with Dementors.

Under Kingsley Shacklebolt, Azkaban was purged of Dementors. While it remains in use as a prison, the guards are now Aurors, who are regularly rotated from the mainland. There has been no breakout since this new system was introduced.

All quotes sourced from Azkaban By J.K. Rowling

  • Thanks for your answer!(+1) I was wondering about other Azkaban-worthy crimes as well, but yes, we do have a rather small sample size! – Harry Weasley Nov 6 '17 at 17:02

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