I was wondering what a wizard should do when a Muggle is about to be killed (let's say in a car accident) and a present wizard notices this in time to prevent this (for example by levitating the victim out of the way). Would the wizard be prosecuted because he violated the Statute or is there some kind of exception?
From there, the next question is of course: (TLDR;) are there any exceptions in the Statute? Which?

2 Answers 2


Yes, exceptions exist.

In Order of the Phoenix, Harry gets attacked by Dementors, and uses a Patronus charm to defend both himself and Dudley. He gets expelled from Hogwarts and summoned to a trial, where a breach of the Statute and the Decree is listed among the charges:

“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August,” said Fudge in aringing voice, and Percy began taking notes at once, “into offences committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident at number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.

Both Sirius and Hermione make vague allusions to the fact that the Statute allows you to perform magic to protect your own life. Sirius says that directly:

“Don’t worry,” Sirius said. Harry looked up and realized that Sirius had been watching him. “I’m sure they’ll clear you, there’s definitely something in the International Statute of Secrecy about being allowed to use magic to save your own life.”

and while Hermione doesn’t quote the exact law, what she says has the same effect:

“They haven’t even reported that you broke the International Statute of Secrecy. We thought they would, it would tie in so well with this image of you as some stupid show-off. We think they’re biding their time until you’re expelled, then they’re really going to go to town - I mean, if you’re expelled, obviously,” she went on hastily. “You really shouldn’t be, not if they abide by their own laws, there’s no case against you.”

At Harry’s trial, as part of his defence, Dumbledore makes reference to part of the Decree which allows for saving your own life (emphasis mine):

“We are here to examine Harry Potter’s offences under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery!”

“Of course we are,” said Dumbledore, “but the presence of Dementors in that alleyway is highly relevant. Clause Seven of the Decree states that magic may be used before Muggles in exceptional circumstances, and as those exceptional circumstances include situations which threaten the life of the wizard or witch him – or herself, or any witches, wizards or Muggles present at the time of the—”

“We are familiar with Clause Seven, thank you very much!” snarled Fudge.

“Of course you are,” said Dumbledore courteously. “Then we are in agreement that Harry’s use of the Patronus Charm in these circumstances falls precisely into the category of exceptional circumstances the clause describes?”

“If there were Dementors, which I doubt.”

It’s reasonable to assume that this protection extends to wizards who are of age, especially since they’re more capable of defending themselves and/or Muggles. There’s no reason not to, and it’s a sensible addition to any law.

The way Dumbledore phrases it suggest that life-threatening circumstances are not the only such exceptions in the law, but I don’t think it’s established in canon what those exceptions are.

  • 2
    This now has me imagining a Three Laws-style setup for the Statute of Secrecy.
    – alexwlchan
    Apr 14, 2014 at 16:19
  • 4
    "I don’t think it’s established in canon what those exceptions are" -- As I would expect from a similar real-world law, there may be some specific exceptions written, but there is just as likely vaugeness worked into it so that a judge can weigh things on a case-by-case basis. Extreme things like "saving a life" would be spelled out in black and white, while borderline things would be punted to the court system.
    – Brian S
    Apr 14, 2014 at 18:05

I don't have the books on me to find the actual quote, but I'm pretty sure it came up at Harry's trial that there is an exception to exception for self defense and defense of others in immediate danger. This is a common exception to laws, and I would go so far as to argue it's a valid defense to any law in any reasonable system, even if not explicitly stated in the wording of that law.

As for other exceptions, we see in the beginning of the sixth book that the Muggle Prime Minister is informed about the Wizarding World.

  • 1
    Good point about the Prime Minister. I didn't think of that.
    – 11684
    Apr 14, 2014 at 16:30
  • Isn't every prime minister informed? IIRC the bit in the sixth book comes up because there's a new prime minister; the position itself is an exception to the statute.
    – Brian S
    Apr 14, 2014 at 18:06
  • @BrianS Yes, each PM is informed around when they take office.
    – Kevin
    Apr 14, 2014 at 18:17
  • "Self-Defense" alone is not generally sufficient to be excused for breaking the law. In most cases the defendant must also establish that they had no other reasonable recourse than to break the law in order to preserve their life. Apr 14, 2014 at 19:30

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