The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery is a bylaw of the Ministry of Magic, written in 1875, which bans the use of underage magic outside of school. The Decree is enforced by the Improper Use of Magic Office in the Ministry of Magic. The restriction is for wizards and witches who are under the age of seventeen, upon which The Trace still operates. Even so, the Ministry does recognise that they may have to use magic in certain situations such as self-defence in a life-threatening situation. In addition, young children of below school age, or children who are not in possession of a wand, are mostly exempt from the rule since they usually have little or no control over the magic they perform.
Paragraph C of the cause states that it is a crime to knowingly perform magic in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle. However, Clause 7 also states that magic can be used in front of Muggles in exceptional circumstances, including situations when the life of the witch or wizard is threatened, or the lives of other witches, wizards and Muggles are threatened.
Also, it seems that a high-authority person may give permission for an underage student to perform magic under circumstances; as Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore gave Harry Potter such an instruction if an attack was to eventuate, when he was 16 years old.
|Lily Evans||Magic||Between Jan 30, 1960 and Jan 30, 1976||Received a few warning letters||None of her warning letters were “too serious”|
|Hermione Granger||"A few simple spells"||Summer of 1991||No action taken||Hermione told Harry Potter and Ron Weasley just prior to their first year at Hogwarts that she had successfully cast a few spells, but apparently, she received no notice or warning about this being banned.|
|Harry Potter||Illegal use of a Hover Charm||July, 1992||Official warning||The Hover Charm was actually produced by the House-elf Dobby.|
|Harry Potter||Illegal use of the Inflating Charm on his "Aunt" Marge||July, 1993||No action taken||Action not taken due to the recent escape of Sirius Black from Azkaban, and the need to keep Harry safe. Additionally, this was considered "accidental magic."|
|Harry Potter||Illegal use of the Patronus Charm in front of a Muggle||2 August, 1995||Expulsion from Hogwarts, later rescinded and given a hearing||Acquitted of all charges due to the fact that he technically did not break any laws. Dolores Umbridge was the one who secretly orchestrated this incident as part of the smear campaign against Harry.|
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it is Hermione Granger who magically repairs Harry's glasses at Diagon Alley, not Arthur Weasley, which should be a violation of this decree. Though maybe because Hermione was in an area where the only Muggles around are the ones aware of the Magical Community Hermione was not punished.
- In the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry did not receive a warning for the illegal use of a Hover Charm which caused a continuity error with the following films due to the fact that the book version caused the Dursley family to learn that Harry cannot use magic outside of school.
- The film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has Harry using the spell Lumos Maxima and yet receiving no warning. It is also possible Lumos Maxima was considered too mundane to be monitored.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (explained by Albus Dumbledore in a footnote)