Some magic is detectable by the MoM, such as underage use out of school. The MoM can also monitor other magic as it sees fit, as when they restricted Floo-network use in book 7. The Ministry knew immediately when the Dark Mark was cast over the Quidditch World Cup site in book 4.

I was considering someone's question 'How did everyone know when Voldemort disappeared (book 1)', and it occurred to me to ask: Why doesn't the Ministry monitor for use of Unforgivable curses? Surely they occur much less frequently than underage magic, and are much more serious.

  • 1
    perhaps they did just see the mark..
    – biobot
    Feb 25, 2014 at 20:36
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    In the film, Alastor Moody says that many people claimed not to be Death Eaters but merely under a curse of obedience. Clearly that was undetectable.
    – Valorum
    Feb 25, 2014 at 20:50
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    @Richard The after effects were but why necessarily the actual curse? Could they not put a taboo (book 7) on the words? Strict censoring seems harsh, but they already restrict other information (horcruxes), and considering its a wand-only curse (plus you have to really mean it)......
    – biobot
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:23
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    maybe the ministry of magic actually secretely uses the unforgivable curses themselves...
    – char
    Feb 25, 2014 at 22:50
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    Pure speculation, but people like Malfoy probably used their influence to keep the Ministry from tracking dark magic. Or should I say they "u$€₫ th€ir inƒ£u€₦¢€" Jun 18, 2016 at 9:57

2 Answers 2

  1. Underage magic is monitored because all children have the Trace.

    Since adult wizards have the Trace removed after turning 17, they couldn't be monitored the same way.

  2. OTOH, it's probably possible to monitor for spells cast on Muggles (e.g. Tom Riddle Sr. being cursed by Morfin Gaunt, who - if you trust Birth Dates on Wikia - was over 17 when he cast the curse in front of the Muggles). But I'm not 100% sure of dates so it's possible he still had the Trace.

They clearly do NOT monitor for Unforgivables, however, or they'd have known about the one put on Barty Crouch Sr. (or later Pius Thicknesse; or earlier all those who claimed they were with Voldemort during First war only because of being Imperiused, as one of the commentors noted); or detect murder of Cedric.

To the best of my knowledge, JKR never explained why, in either books or interviews.

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    Surely unforgivable curses are unforgivable because it was decided they were. Is there any evidence that they are otherwise intrinsically set apart? because if not, then gotcha JKR, because the MoM detects lots of different magic. I'm asking for logic if not cannon. I might have to declare an inconsistency or some such
    – biobot
    May 1, 2014 at 0:16
  • @biobot - according to canon, Unforgivables are Unforgivables because the law says they are. But there are reasonable logical reasons why those 3 were picked. Think of them like Mortal Sins vs regular sins in Catholicism; or Felonies vs Misdemeanors. May 1, 2014 at 1:10
  • Still, that confirms they are value judgements, and not subject to physical principles. No good reason....
    – biobot
    May 1, 2014 at 2:28
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    @biobot actually that would seem a better argument against why they can't trace them. even if the ministry can detect when a spell has been cast (e.g. the Trace) they can't tell what spell has been cast.
    – user11521
    Nov 12, 2014 at 20:26

The reason that magic is detectable for underage wizards outside of school is because they have the trace on them, so they can tell when magic is being done. Many young wizards can get away with doing magic, because they live in a wizarding household and the MoM cannot tell the difference between who cast the spell without checking the wand (which not all magic requires). Once they turn 17 the trace is removed and so they can no longer track what that said wizard has been doing. The Floo-Network is entirely different to casting a spell, it is just magical transportation, which I believe they can choose and change which fireplaces are connected to one another through the MoM department, same as portkeys and disapparating.

The MoM knew that the dark mark had been used, because half of the ministry of magic was at the campsite that night for patrolling the hundreds of thousands of witches and wizards that has turned up to see the match. The ones that apparated together around Harry Ron and Hermione, were already at the camp fighting the death eaters when they appeared, they just saw it, same as the rest.

The MoM probably cannot trace the use of Unforigavble Curses because there is no wizarding trace left on you once you become of age. The only way they can detect spells is by using 'Priori Incantatem' which would show echoes of spells recently used, however, you would have to be able to luckily find somebody that had used the spell/s, take their wand from them (I doubt you would see Bellatrix lending her want to the ministry to have it checked) and then they would know. Apart from that, they cannot.

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