There are only three Unforgivable Curses that are punishable. It seems that all the other spells can be freely used in any situation (until someone actually killed I guess). There seem to be no regulation for such spells as Stupefy, Levicorpus or Petrificus Totalus on a fellow human.

Petrificus Totalus looks like an especially disturbing spell to me.

Neville’s arms snapped to his sides. His legs sprang together. His whole body rigid, he swayed where he stood and then fell flat on his face, stiff as a board. Hermione ran to turn him over. Neville’s jaws were jammed together so he couldn’t speak. Only his eyes were moving, looking at them in horror.

It actually feels like a torture by itself with possibility of serious injuries. And I dread to think how it can be used in less innocent situations - by a gang of teenage bullies for instance.

Still, an eleven year old nice and kind girl uses it on other child without a second thought. Draco used it on Harry without any consequences and even Dumbledore thinks it's appropriate to use the spell on a human being (right before he is killed).

The spell seems potentially dangerous and violates elementary understanding of human rights and dignity. Shouldn't such spells be somehow regulated by the law? Is there any evidences in the books that the usage of magic on other humans somehow controlled by the Ministry?

  • 2
    I'd say dupe of Why bother with Unforgivable Curses? because the answers there state that what makes the curses so regulated is that you can't possibly counter them (AK especially), while PF for instance can be shielded from, and recovered from within an infirmary or something. Granted, the answers there don't fully tackle the "usage of magic on other humans somehow controlled by the Ministry" part but there are other questions about this, I reckon - dinnertime though, sorry! :p
    – Jenayah
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 17:56
  • @Jenayah Bon appetit :) Does that answer my question though? In the link you provided they discuss more of a technical side of using spells, not moral and law restrictions. The fact that PF can be potentially shielded does not make it's usage any more moral, just potentially less dangerous. If someone attacks me with a knife, I can shield it probably, but the attempt still going to be punishable by the law (I hope?).
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 18:14
  • 2
    Related reading: Are there police in the Wizarding World?: there's a Department of Magical Law Enforcement which likely deals with those... Not much examples given there but there are just so much HP questions that they're bound to overlap eventually
    – Jenayah
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


No, but wizards can be charged if they commit crimes with them.

Only the Unforgivable Curses are specifically regulated by law, but that doesn’t mean wizards can commit crimes using other spells to escape punishment. The Unforgivable Curses are just the only three spells that simply using is enough to cause a life sentence in Azkaban.

“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)

However, wizards can be convicted of crimes using either no Unforgivable Curses, or no spells at all. Morfin Gaunt attacked a Ministry official with hexes, and though which ones they are weren’t specified, they wouldn’t have been Unforgivable Curses, since those are curses, not hexes.

“With a roar of rage, Morfin leapt out of his chair and ran at Ogden, brandishing his bloody knife and firing hexes indiscriminately from his wand.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)

Though he doesn’t use Unforgivable Curses, he was still convicted and sentenced to Azkaban.

“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)

Dumbledore’s father was convicted of attacking Muggles, but wasn’t said to have used Unforgivable Curses in his attack on them. That means he either used other spells, or brute force.

“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)

Despite that, he’s still convicted. Other spells that can cause harm may be legal, but actually using them to cause that harm (without a reason) can still result in a conviction and Azkaban sentence.

  • 1
    Yes, this seems similar to the distinction we have in our own world between general violent crime offenses such as Assault and Murder versus specific weapons offenses such as Carrying a Handgun without a License (in places where such licenses are actually required). Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 2:26
  • Just as a side note: Morfin was mainly put in Azkaban for his attack on Tom Riddle Sr; the hexes he fired at Ogden, which did no real damage, were not likely to have played a major part in his sentencing. Of course, that was only “a jinx or hex” as well, but it was on a Muggle, which is presumably why his sentence was so much harsher than his father’s. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 16:17

I am accepting Bellatrix' answer as it indeed looks like there are no regulations on hexes against people until we speak about definite criminal behavior.

But I just want to add these quotes from The Orden Of The Phoenix that relates (in a way) to what I was asking.

"I told you this morning, you can't test your rubbish on students!"-"We are paying them!"-"I don't care, it could be dangerous!"...

..."It is not excellent!"-"Course it is, they're alive, aren't they?" said Fred angrily. "You can't do this, what if you made one of them really ill?"...

..."I can't stop you eating the stupid things yourselves, but you are not giving them to first years."

Hermione is not an official force here of course, but she shows the same concerns I have - should the unauthorized usage of magic on other people be restricted? Looks like what the twins are doing there is not a criminal case, but it still should fall under some rules and regulations (she believes, same as myself).

Unfortunately is seems like it's Hermione's personal opinion and no one else is bothered by uncontrolled magical experiments on children. Which I guess confirms the fact that it is not strictly controlled on a legislative level and probably can lead to as much as detention if uncovered.

UPD. Oh, I found another example! It's in The Orden of the Phoenix when McGonagall was hit by four Stupefy spells during the Astronomy examination.

"Galloping gargoyles!"- shouted Professor Tofty, who seemed to have forgotten the exam completely.- "Not so much as a warning! Outrageous behavior!"

This implies that at least some basic rules exist for using offensive spells. And if it is not necessarily a law, at least some standards that wizards are expected to follow.

  • Is this actually meant to be 1) an edit to the question 2) a comment on Bellas answer 3) a complementary answer to Bellas or 4) an answer in its own right?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:24
  • @TheLethalCarrot - an answer on it's own as it shows a bit different angle of view from Bella's answer. In my question I wasn't asking about criminal cases like murder or violent attacks specifically, but more about regulations of using offensive magic on an every day basis (like in case of Hermione and Neville)
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:30
  • 1
    @TheLethalCarrot I am rereading The Orden now and when came to the scene with Hermione and twins was like "hey, that's what I was looking for!". The thing is that Bella's answer seems correct anyway as it shows that law regulates only obviously criminal cases, nothing about offensive magic that does not end up with serious injuries.
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:42
  • That's fine, just wanted to confirm is all.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:00

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