Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter (Part II): Not Without My Horcrux

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter travel to a magical cave over a stormy coast, in hopes of recovering a magical locket belonging to Voldemort. After travelling across an enchanted lagoon, they arrive at an island, where they see a case under a pool of potion. Dumbledore (with Harry's assistance) drinks all of the potion and Harry takes the case before they head back to Hogwarts. After Dumbledore is killed, Harry opens the case and sees the item inside is a forgery placed there by R.A.B., who took the original many years ago.

Issue: Did Dumbledore and Harry commit a crime even though the locket is a forgery?

Law: Larceny is the intentional taking of another's property with the intent to permanently deprive the person of his property.

Analysis: Likely. Although Dumbledore and Harry did not take any of Voldemort's property, they left the cave with a case believing it belonged to Voldemort, i.e., with the intent to permanently deprive Voldemort of the locket. Because Dumbledore and Harry did not complete the crime of larceny against Voldemort, they are only guilty of attempted larceny because they took a substantial step toward committing the underlying larceny (carrying away the case with the fake locket). At the same time, they are probably guilty of larceny of R.A.B.'s property, under a theory of transferred intent.

But, you're probably thinking that Dumbledore and Harry were justified in their actions because it was to prevent a greater harm in the form of Voldemort. This is the defense of necessity, which excuses some criminal conduct if there is an imminent danger and the harm from the conduct would be less than the harm from the imminent danger. Harry (since Dumbledore is dead and can't be prosecuted anymore) has a good argument here.

Bonus: They may also be guilty of conspiracy to commit larceny as there appears to be an agreement between Dumbledore and Harry to retrieve this item, even though Harry may not have known exactly what they were going to do at the time he agreed to help Dumbledore and at the time they left the cave with the fake locket.

For an additional post on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, click here.


  1. At the risk of sounding repetitive, the biggest crime throughout the movie was Ron's hair.

  2. i do think robin makes a good case. i look forward to the legal argument against.

    however, is voldemort guilty of assault on dumbledore, since the water to be drunk was a form of an attack?

  3. I stand by the wheat field as the biggest crime in the film, second only to the bleh ending.

    Dumbledore voluntarily drank the potion and arguably knew it was no good for him. Now the inferi are another story.