Religious Beliefs Be a Defense for Breaking the Law in New Mexico?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting for Client’s Religious Beliefs Throughout New Mexico

Religious BeliefsYour religious beliefs might conflict with the laws of New Mexico. However, those beliefs are not always a defense to a crime. In fact, the law rarely accepts religious beliefs as a defense in a criminal trial. When an activity is illegal, there is no excuse – this includes religious activities.

Examples in Past Criminal Cases

There are examples in the country’s history where a person’s religious beliefs were not accepted. These include:

  • State v. Neumann: A Wisconsin mother by the name of Sally had a daughter, Anne, with diabetes. Sally’s religious beliefs forced her to avoid medical treatment for Anne. As a result, Anne died from her disease. Prosecutors then charged the mother with reckless homicide for her daughter’s death. Regardless of her religious beliefs, it was not a defense to her failure to care for her child.
  • State v. Adler: In another case, a man from Hawaii was growing marijuana at his residence. He was arrested and charged with violating drug laws. He tried to defend his 82 plants on grounds of religious beliefs and attempted to say his religious beliefs were being stifled by his conviction. However, the court did not agree.

Does State Law Provide an Exception?

There are some states in the country that will provide religious exemptions. Some will also accept faith-based decisions for medical care. For example, some states may allow people to use Christian Science treatments over traditional medical treatments, if they are active Christian Science practitioners.

Does the Federal Government Provide Exceptions?

There are exceptions under the Constitution. When the free exercise of the First Amendment conflicts with the law, the Supreme Court may waive the charges. For example, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could affect a person’s federal charges. Consider, for example, if a group of religious members during a ceremony drink a tea that has an illegal substance inside of it. Their shipment of that substance is seized by the government. However, under the Act, the church’s use of the tea in a religious manner is acceptable. Therefore, their charges are dropped and they are not convicted of a crime.

In Everyday Crimes, Religious Beliefs Do Not Matter

There are only rare exceptions when religious beliefs are used as a defense to a criminal act. Therefore, if you were arrested, but feel that your First Amendment rights are violated or you have a justifiable religious defense, then contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can help you explore your defense options and find one that best suits your interests while protecting your religious freedom rights. Schedule a free consultation with our New Mexico religious beliefs defense attorneys today by calling 505-375-4763 or completing our online contact form with your legal questions.