So obviously he breaks wizarding law in book 5 when Fudge is "interfering" at Hogwarts. He also possibly broke it when he was younger

with Gellert Grindelwald.

During the times when the Ministry was "normal", are there any canon illegal activities by Dumbledore?

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    Can you be specific about which particular actions you believe break the law (even if you think they should be utterly obvious, it's better to ensure we aren't thinking about different things).
    – BoBTFish
    Mar 28, 2014 at 16:28
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    I'm not thinking of anything in particular for the time periods I specified. If you mean what he did during year 5, I think attacking the Minister of Magic is enough:)
    – ike
    Mar 28, 2014 at 16:31
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    I think running a vigilante group on par with the aurors (Order of the Phoenix), irrespective of it's intentions, might be techncally illegal
    – user13267
    Mar 28, 2014 at 22:56
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    In book 4 Fudge mentions that he has always given Dumbledore free rein out of respect. This could imply Dumbledore has has done a few (at least technically) illegal activities which the Ministry has overlooked in the past
    – user13267
    Mar 28, 2014 at 23:09

4 Answers 4


I can think of plenty of examples. In the spirit of TGnat’s answer, I’ve compiled a list of Muggle offences of which Dumbledore is guilty (which are probably offences in the magical world as well).

Everything I list below has a good motivation on Dumbledore’s part – I’m not saying whether these are right or wrong, just that they are instances where Dumbledore may have broken wizarding law. (I’m also not saying you could get a successful prosecution!)

Perverting the course of justice

In Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore gives Harry and Hermione detailed instructions for finding Sirius, and suggests that they free Buckbeak as well:

“Now, pay attention,” said Dumbledore, speaking very low, and very clearly. “Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick’s office on the seventh floor. Thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower. If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen. Miss Granger, you know the law — you know what is at stake…. You — must — not — be — seen.”

Putting aside the question of whether either of them are “truly” guilty, they have been tried in a Ministry court and found guilty. Dumbledore can’t take all of the blame, but he is responsible for incitement. (Which was still an offence in England and Wales in ~1993/PoA.)

After he escapes, Sirius is still a wanted man. Dumbledore knows his whereabouts, but does not tell the Ministry. I assume he doesn’t tell them that Sirius is an unregistered Animagus, either.1 In fact, we know that Kingsley Shacklebolt deliberately mislead the Ministry search:

[Arthur Weasley:] “Kingsley Shacklebolt’s been a real asset, too; he’s in charge of the hunt for Sirius, so he’s been feeding the Ministry information that Sirius is in Tibet.”

If he was doing so on Dumbledore’s orders, then that’s another charge of incitement.

Further, Dumbledore fails to inform the Ministry that Peter Pettigrew is alive. As a key witness at the Black massacre, and an apparently dead man, the Ministry might want to talk to him.

In the same vein, when he claims credit for Dumbledore’s Army in Order of the Phoenix, he is drawing attention from the true “criminals” – Harry and Hermione.

Resisting arrest

When the Ministry officials arrive to arrest him in OotP, he explicitly says that he won’t be coming. That sounds illegal. He then threatens Dawlish, who has come to arrest him:

“Don’t be silly, Dawlish,” said Dumbledore kindly. “I’m sure you are an excellent Auror - I seem to remember that you achieved ‘Outstanding’ in all your NEWT s — but if you attempt to — er — bring me in by force, I will have to hurt you.”

At a stretch, this might qualify as criminal threatening or intimidation.


As the headmaster of Hogwarts, he has a duty of care to his students. In Half-Blood Prince, he is aware that Draco Malfoy is plotting to kill him, but does not stop Malfoy from trying. Along the way, Katie, Ron and Madam Rosmerta2 are injured, and somebody could have been killed if he didn’t stop Malfoy.

Although they all made a full recovery, this is still negligence. (The crime is failing to exercise due care, not the eventual effect.)

There are other instances where Hogwarts is distinctly unsafe for students, or where Dumbledore fails to act in a “reasonable” way – I just picked that one because it’s the most extreme.

1 I’m not suggesting the Ministry would be interested in prosecuting Sirius for being an unregistered Animagus, but it would be useful for them to know – it explains his Azkaban escape, and how he can evade the Dementors.

2 Under the influence of the Imperius curse.

  • I did explicitly exclude year 5 from consideration, but it's a fairly complete answer.
    – ike
    Apr 7, 2014 at 1:52

While we really don't know everything about the Wizarding world's law, I suspect that Conspiracy to commit acts that would violate the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecey might constitute a crime. In Dumbledore's own words:

Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumph. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution.

Possibly aiding and abetting a few unnatural acts:

The Resurrection Stone - to him, though I pretended not to know it, it meant an army of Inferi!

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    Good catch on conspiracy being illegal in muggle laws Mar 31, 2014 at 9:52
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    I explicitly excluded the time with Grindlewald (although it may not have been so clear).
    – ike
    Mar 31, 2014 at 11:23

In-canon, there is no evidence that Dumbledore ever subverted wizarding law, unless he felt that wizarding law was corrupt. Witness

the assault he made upon Fudge when Dumbledore's Army was outed by Marietta in OOTP


his advising Harry and Hermione to help free Sirius Black when he discovered Sirius' innocence

as evidence that Dumbledore only broke the law when the law was not just.

However, Dumbledore was certainly aware of his allies illegal activities (Mundungus Fletcher as a general crook, Sirius Black as an unregistered Animagus), and expressed his disapproval of their activities.

Out-of-canon, I believe that Dumbledore was a person of such great moral fiber that he would never break the law with malicious intent.

  • I had forgotten about Sirius Black! Can we point to any specific laws it would have broken? After all, he only hinted to Harry and Hermione what to do.
    – ike
    Mar 31, 2014 at 15:30
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    @ike IRL, the most you could get him on would be conspiracy, and even then, it'd be Albus fricking Dumbledore against whoever claimed that he did it, and, as he says, who would believe a pair of 11-year old wizards if they said that Dumbledore made them?
    – thegoose
    Apr 2, 2014 at 21:10

He did very little with Grindelwald other than scheme. They both lived in Godric's Holly for two months, the summer after Dumbledore graduated from Hogwart's. During that time, there was much correspondence between them. However, after

the argument between Albus, Aberforth, and Grindelwald that resulted in Arian's death

Grindelwald left to pursue his illegal activities in other parts of Europe, leaving Dumbledore behind.

After this time, there is no mention of Dumbledore doing anything illegal. It rather changed him quite a lot, and ultimately is the reason he went into teaching (probably).

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