Harry Potter question: former Death Eaters (spoilers for 1-5)

I’ve seen all the five Harry Potter movies but only read the first of the books. Please post no spoilers about anything happening in parts six or seven.

There is something I feel I’ve missed in the story. It seems to be common knowledge, if not generally talked about, that for example Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater. So how come he and others are not in Azkaban or at least shunned by the rest of the wizard community? Why are they treated like everyone else, when they’re known to be followers of Voldemort?

Malfoy, in particular, convinced the Ministry that he’d been imperiused and was not in control of his actions.

Any details on how he managed to do that? Wouldn’t the Ministry require some kind of evidence? Surely it must have access to magical means to ascertain the truth?

While we’re on the subject, why didn’t the Ministry simply use the veritaserum on Harry during the trial in Order of the Phoenix?

It was my understanding that most Death Eaters were anonymous, operating in secret (like Peter Pettigrew), but that the Order of the Phoenix had a pretty good idea of who their enemies were. Malfoy’s allegiance was general knowledge to Harry and Dumbledore. Malfoy has a lot of money, and is a philanthropist, so I don’t think he had a lot of trouble convincing people of his innocence.

This is a whole lot of conjecture. I’m not sure if there’s anything solid on the matter apart from Jonathan’s comment.

That’s right. The Wizengamot held hearings after Voldemort’s fall and cleared some former Death Eaters on that basis. Others were sent to Azkaban. Others (like Peter Pettigrew) went into hiding.

It seems like they didn’t ever use that routinely - the scenes where Harry is viewing the trials through Dumbledore’s Pensieve imply the people are speaking of their own free well.

Also in OotP, the Ministry may fear that Harry will say something they don’t want to hear. They may have the official line that Voldy isn’t really back, because that would destabilize their regime, but there’s got to be that niggling doubt…

There’s a page on Veritaserum as it applies to trials and so on on JK’s website. Linky.

Nothing other than Hagrid saying that he made the claim.

We see other Death Eaters getting off the hook…

Snape is let off on Dumbledore’s testimony that he’d been working for the good guys.

Karkaroff got off by turning stoolie on some other death eaters.

Avery MacNair, whom is clearly a death eater was free and working for the ministry in book three.

It’s stated that Crabb and Goyle’s fathers were Death Eaters but there’s no particular reason ever given for why they were wandering free.

I considered that, but at least in the movie it seems that the Minister honestly doesn’t believe Voldemort is back. When he sees Voldemort he gasps “he’s back” with what seems to be genuine surprise. If he is back, it seems that the Minister would want to know.

Thanks. That explanation makes sense.

I’d advise looking through her site to anyone, really. There’s some interesting explanations and ideas that didn’t get into the books.