Magical Law

Wizards have their own government and laws, distinct and separate from Muggles. While wizards are not strictly bound by Muggle law, most Muggle laws have some reflection in wizard law, and those that do not are generally obeyed anyhow due to the Statute of Secrecy.


Wizard Government

Wizardkind in the United Kingdom and Ireland is governed by the British Ministry of Magic.

The Wizengamot

The central authority of the wizard government is the Wizengamot, which serves as both a kind of Parliament and a High Court.

Members of the Wizengamot, sometimes called Justices, are elected by popular vote for 5 year terms. By the laws established at the founding of the Ministry of Magic, every individual "of magical heritage" has a vote. Throughout history, the interpretation of what constitutes magical heritage has shifted repeatedly. At present, wizards (including half-breed wizards, such as half-giants) and Squibs have votes. Magical non-humans have never had a vote, though there have been numerous efforts to change that. There have even been several attempts to declare Muggle-born wizards to be of non-magical heritage, robbing them of their vote. Thus far, all of these have been unsuccessful.

Wizengamot candidates must conform to the following rules:

  • Must be a wizard.
  • Must be 25 years of age or older.
  • Must not have any major criminal convictions (anything severe enough to be sent to Azkaban).
  • Must have completed seven years of schooling, with no less than four N.E.W.T.s.

The Minister for Magic, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement preside ex officio (and, therefore, are not elected as Justices). In the absence of these individuals, the head of the Wizengamot — called the Chief Warlock — presides.

Only the most important trials are handled by the Wizengamot. Lesser trials are handled by Magistrates — Hit Wizards specially trained to oversee matters not suitable for the Wizengamot, such as petty crimes or civil cases. See below for more information on Magistrates.

Minister for Magic

The head of the government is the Minister for Magic, who runs the affairs of the Ministry, and can also presides the Wizengamot to pass wizarding law and sit in on important trials.

The Minister is elected by Wizengamot for a life term (or until voted out by the Wizengamot). Ministers are often chosen from within the Ministry, usually a member of the Wizengamot or a Ministry department head. Despite this, candidates may be anyone that fulfills the following criteria:

  • Must be a wizard.
  • Must be 30 years of age or older.
  • Must not have any major criminal convictions (anything severe enough to be sent to Azkaban).
  • Must have completed seven years of schooling, with no less than four N.E.W.T.s.

Minister candidates will campaign for the position. While the populace doesn’t vote for the Minister, they do vote for the Justices of the Wizengamot, so a Justice can potentially gain or lose votes for re-election if they vote in a poor Minister. Therefore, popular opinion does have an impact on the process. Nevertheless, money talks, and candidates will generally seek favour with wealthy backers, leading to plenty of accusations of bribery and favouritism.

Department Heads

The heads of the various Ministry departments are appointed by the Minister, but must be confirmed by a vote of the Wizengamot. The various departments have different requirements for their heads, but all of them must conform to the same criteria as Wizengamot Justices.

Law Enforcement

Most crimes are investigated by the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. When a crime involves the Dark Arts, the Auror Office takes over the investigation. After arrests have been made, if the crime is to go to trial, either the local Magistrate will handle it, or in the case of serious and high-profile crimes, it is passed on to the Wizengamot Administration Services. All Auror cases are handled through the W.A.S.


The M.L.E.S. and the W.A.S. cannot possibly process every single crime to occur in the wizarding world. Local crimes that do not require special attention are handled by specially trained Hit Wizards, called Magistrates, that are assigned to police a given region. For instance, there is a Magistrate that has jurisdiction over London, and another for Hogsmeade Village and the surrounding area (though not at Hogwarts itself, which is self-policed). Magistrates are both Sheriff and Justice, and have the authority to investigate, arrest, and convict or acquit members of the magical populace in their jurisdiction. Naturally, if an investigation turns up evidence of Dark magic, the Magistrate must contact the Auror Office immediately.

Magistrates exist to lighten the load on the Wizengamot, serving as Justices for small crimes of local concern, including (but not limited to):

  • Littering
  • Vandalism
  • Public lewdness
  • Public drunkenness
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Trespassing on private property
  • Brawling (attacks resulting in severe injury are typically considered assault, and sent up to the Wizengamot)
  • Illegal hexing/jinxing/cursing
  • Petty theft
  • Truancy
  • Unlicensed prostitution

Crimes that are always passed on to the Wizengamot include (but are not limited to):

  • Illegal possession of controlled substances
  • Unauthorized use of the Dark Arts
  • Burglary
  • Trespassing on Ministry property
  • Assault (resulting in true injury; minor fights are still handled locally — see brawling, above)
  • Assault of a Ministry official
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual molestation/Rape
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder

Magistrates may enforce the following disciplinary action:

  • Detain a suspect for up to twenty-four hours (usually to allow time for an intoxicated individual to "dry up", or to keep a suspect from wandering off before an investigation is complete).
  • Sentence a convict to up to three days imprisonment in a local jail cell. Any sentence more severe than this means a stay in Azkaban, and only the Wizengamot can impose such a sentence.
  • Temporarily confiscate the wand of a suspect or convict, for the length of their detainment or sentence.
  • Impose fines.
  • Impose public service. Typically this is manual labor, with no magic allowed.


Whether handled by the Wizengamot or a local Magistrate, trials follow the same basic structure and set of rules. All creatures classified as Beings have the right to a fair trial, and may choose to represent themselves, or seek representation by a barrister.

Evidence and testimony gained by the following means are considered circumstantial, but cannot be considered by the court without additional substantiation from other sources:

  • Testimony of ghosts and other spirits.
  • Testimony extracted under Veritaserum.
  • Information gained via divination or the Sight.
  • Information gained via Legilimency.
  • Extracted memories.
  • Information gained through the use of a Time-Turner.

The Statute of Secrecy

The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is the law that forbids the exposure of the existence of magic to Muggles. The Statute states that each individual Ministry of Magic is responsible for hiding the presence of the magical community in their own country. Each Ministry is held responsible for, among other things, the control of magical beasts, curbing public displays of underage magic, and ensuring that magical games and sports are played without risk of discovery.

The Statute also establishes laws regarding modes of dress, requiring them to adopt Muggle standards of clothing in the presence of Muggles, and forbidding self-altering or -adjusting clothing in such cases. In spite of this, clothing infractions have been the most common breaches of the Statute of Secrecy since its inception.

Sanctioned Muggles

The Statute of Secrecy does allow for some Muggles to be aware of the wizarding world. In most cases, these "sanctioned" Muggles will be immediate family members (or guardians) of a wizard, whether that wizard was born to Muggles, or married into a Muggle family. The Statute also allows for Muggle heads of state to be made aware. The British Prime Minister, for example, is sanctioned.

But none of these situations guarantee that a Muggle will be sanctioned. There are a number of factors that must first be considered. The Muggle Liaison Office is the body primarily responsible for vetting Muggles for sanctioned status. Though in the case of the Prime Minister, several other departments get involved, including the M.L.E., I.M.C, and the Minister for Magic.

The Vetting Process

When a Muggle Liaison is assigned to vet a Muggle, he begins a thorough investigation into that Muggle's life. This primarily includes background checks and discreet observation. This is one of the few situations in which the Ministry will regularly approve investigation into the records of Muggle authorities (typically handled via Squibs working in Muggle institutions). This process usually takes about a month, but can vary depending upon the availability of the Liaison, the Muggle, and access to research information.

If the observation and research period goes well, the Liaison will eventually approach to inform the Muggle about the wizarding world. The Obliviators are always informed when this meeting is to happen, so that if it goes badly, they can step in and remove any knowledge of wizards and magic from the Muggle's mind.

The sorts of things that will commonly preclude a Muggle from being sanctioned include:

  • Criminal history/behaviour (particularly for more severe crimes)
  • Dependency on drugs or alcohol
  • Ties to Muggle government
  • Hostile personality
  • A tendency to gossip
  • An inability to lie

Reforms After the Unity Act

The Unity Act of 1940 would have completely dismantled the Statute of Secrecy in the United Kingdom and Ireland if Prime Minister Winston Churchill had not put a stop to it. But even though the Act failed in the end, it did lead to some reforms in how the Ministry handles the vetting and sanctioning of Muggles. It has become more tolerant of risk factors, and while the Obliviators are even more vigilant than before, they are less likely to take immediate action in the case of a breach. Excepting extreme cases, a breach will now be investigated more thoroughly by the M.A.C. before obliviation occurs.


Wizard Rights

Right to Carry a Wand

Wizards have the right to carry a wand at all times. This right was established by the International Confederation of Wizards in 1692, when Muggle persecution was at its height and the wizards were planning their retreat into hiding.

There are only a handful of exception to this rule:

  • A wizard that has not passed an O.W.L. test (or its equivalent) may have their wand broken or confiscated by the Ministry, and are barred from obtaining another.
  • Wizards that have been imprisoned have their wands confiscated, to be returned upon release.
  • Wizards that have been deemed mentally unstable are committed to the Long-Term Residence Ward at St. Mungo's, and their wands are confiscated, to be returned upon release.

Magical Duels

Duelling is an ancient tradition among wizards as a means of resolving disputes. Though no longer commonplace, the laws dictating how duels must take place are still on the books. Before the formalization of the duel, battles between wizards were devastating. But when cooler heads prevailed and suggested rules of conflict, history was made. Since that time, duelling has taken a special place in wizarding society, even being practiced as a sport, second only to Quidditch in popularity.

These rules are often followed even in duels between enemies that wish to do violence to, or even kill, one another. After all, if a wizard cannot be trusted to obey the code of conduct in a duel, then future opponents may dispense with civility as well. When that happens, and magical battles become forces of mass destruction again, then the Ministry and other powerful wizards start to take notice and step in to end the threat to wizarding secrecy.

Laws of the Duel

In order to duel legally, the following must be observed.

  1. The Challenge: A duel must begin with a challenge. One wizard challenges another. If the challenge is accepted, the opponents arrange a meeting time and place for their duel. If it is refused, no legal duel may take place. But this frequently leads to greater antagonism and a loss of face for the wizard that declined.
  2. Seconds: Each duellist has the right to choose a "second" — an ally that will fight in the duellist's place if necessary.
  3. Terms of Victory: Before the fight begins, the terms of victory must be established, such as whether it is a duel to the death, or if certain spells are forbidden. It is an unspoken rule that Dark magic is disallowed, but many a Dark wizard has taken advantage of this assumption. Though using an Unforgivable Curse would immediately render the duel illegal.
  4. Initiation: The fight cannot begin until both participants have bowed and assumed their opening stance. This indicates readiness to fight.
  5. Spells Only: Only spells may be used in a wizards' duel. Physical contact is expressly forbidden.

Duels that violate these rules are considered illegal, and subject to prosecution. Only by following this strict code of conduct may wizards engage in duelling without fear of legal repercussion. That said, duelling to the death is generally considered poor form in the modern day, and even thought it may be legal, it isn't socially acceptable. A wizard that kills another in a duel will likely be treated as a pariah, no longer welcome in civilised company.

Rights Wizards Don't Have

The wizarding world has nothing like the Miranda Rights. Hit Wizards and Aurors are trusted to arrest only those that are truly suspects in a crime, and are under no obligation to inform a suspect of their rights. This isn't to say that a law enforcer couldn't face repercussions for a poorly handled arrest, but that has more to do with the power and influence of the suspect than the law itself.


Crimes and Restrictions

Wizards do not inherently have the right to use magic. They must demonstrate their capability by passing the Ordinary Wizarding Levels (O.W.L.s), or Wizards' Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test (W.O.M.B.A.T.). An adult wizard that has not passed either of these tests is forbidden from using magic, and may have their wand confiscated by the Ministry.

<More details forthcoming>

Improper Use of Magic



Wizards are required to register the following conditions and special abilities with the Ministry:

  • Animagi must register with the Improper Use of Magic Office of the M.L.E.
  • Legilimens must register with the Improper Use of Magic Office of the M.L.E.
  • Werewolves must register with the Beast Division of the R.C.M.C.
  • Seers are not required to register with the Department of Mysteries, but they are encouraged to do so. If it becomes known that an unregistered Seer exists, the Department of Mysteries will take the liberty of registering that Seer anyhow, and secretly place a special charm upon them that will cause their predictions and visions to manifest for the Unspeakables, to be recorded in the Hall of Prophecy. This practice is not widely known, as many would likely see it as a violation of a Seer's privacy.

Underage Sorcery

Wizards under the age of 16 are not permitted to use magic outside of Hogwarts, except in self-defense. The names of all children born with magical potential appear in a book housed at Hogwarts (which may or may not be connected somehow to the Department of Mysteries). Those children then have "the Trace" placed upon them. The Trace is a special charm that alerts the Ministry whenever magic is used in the vicinity of the subject. It also notifies the Ministry of the spell used — though it cannot identify the user. When the magic is unidentifiable, it often means an uncontrolled outburst of magic from an underage wizard. The Ministry will investigate (discreetly in the case of a Muggle-born child), and if it is confirmed that the child was the source of magic, the name of this child goes on the invitation rolls for Hogwarts.

Controlled Substances

With the prevalence of the study of potion-making, the question of the legality of various substances is an important one. Potions are one of the few readily-available methods of "storing" magic for later use, and can generally be used with much more subtlety than spells. Therefore, the Ministry takes careful note of certain potions that can potentially cause trouble.

All controlled substances require special licensing to be made legally, and sellers must keep records of who they sell them to.

Any potions that can be classified as poisons are considered a controlled substance, and require a special license to even be in possession of them.

Other controlled substances include:

  • Drink of Despair
  • Polyjuice Potion
  • Veritaserum
  • Powdered dragon claw: This can be used as a mental stimulant, providing energy and focus. But as with all dragon parts, it can only be sold by a licensed dealer.


Most minor criminal offenses are punished with fines or public service. Local Magistrate offices have holding cells, as do the Ministry offices of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, but these are rarely occupied for more than a few days.

Long-term incarceration is only for those wizards deemed too dangerous to be allowed to exist in society. Murderers, Dark wizards, and their ilk will earn themselves a sentence in Azkaban. This can range anywhere from a few weeks to life.


Magical Travel

Travel is much easier for wizards, but there are still laws in place limiting it.

Magical travel of any kind — including broom-flying, Apparition, and so on — is forbidden in the presence of Muggles. This can make Apparition into non-wizarding areas a potential crime, as one cannot know if there are Muggle witnesses at one's destination until arrival. Using brooms in Muggle areas is permissible only at night, or during weather conditions that would disguise the flyer, such as thick fog or heavy rain and snow.

It should be noted that Quidditch is not allowed to be played within 100 miles of a Muggle settlement.

Portkeys are highly regulated by the Department of Magical Transportation. Few outside of the Ministry possess the magic to create portkeys, and those that do so without the explicit permission of the D.M.T. are in violation of magical law.

The Floo Network is managed by the Department of Magical Transportation as well, and only they can connect or disconnect a fireplace from the network (though the owner of the fireplace can temporarily disable it if needed). They can also monitor the network to see who is using it, and where they are going within it. Floo Powder is a controlled substance, and the only licensed producer of it in Britain is a company called Floo-Pow, and other attempts to recreate it have always been unsuccessful, and often result in a visit to St. Mungo's. It is relatively inexpensive, at two Sickles a scoop, and most every wizard household with a Floo-connected fireplace keeps a box or vase of it on the mantlepiece.

International Passage

Wizards are not permitted to use magical travel to cross international borders without permission from the Ministry. Of course, nothing prevents them from using Muggle transportation, but that becomes a matter for Muggle laws to address.



The "oldest profession" isn't unique to Muggles. Wizarding laws about prostitution are similar to Muggle laws. The act is legal, but there are regulations placed upon it.

First and foremost, no one below the age of sixteen may engage in prostitution.

Prostitutes may not solicit clients in public places, including but not limited to the street and pubs. Prostitutes must pay a fee (most of which goes to the Ministry) to be examined monthly at St. Mungo's, where they receive a special mark upon their skin. The prostitute may decide where the mark is placed, but it is typically located somewhere that can be covered with clothing if so desired. The mark is usually invisible, but can be revealed with the right charms. It can also be seen by those with a ready lust in their hearts, appearing in the shape of a flickering red candle flame. The mark fades in a little over a month, meaning it is time for another visit to St. Mungo's. Acts of prostitution by a person without the mark are illegal, and subject to fines and jail time at the local Magistrate's Office.

The ban on public soliciting can make the job difficult for a prostitute that doesn't work in a brothel. But there are two accepted protocols that are usually followed. One is to stand outside one's own home, waiting for a client to approach and be invited in. The other involves attending a pub, but feigning a transaction about something other than sex. As long as the matter of sexual favours isn't mentioned directly, the prostitute is usually in the clear from a legal standpoint.

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