You may not have heard the story of Thomas Zachary Breeding before, but it is a cautionary tale about drug charges and proactively protecting yourself in difficult legal situations. Breeding was a fisherman who had run-ins with the law before his infamous moment in 2016.

Last year, he was out fishing one day when he says he found a container of cocaine floating off the coast of Panama City, Florida. The container held roughly $500,000 worth of cocaine. Accidentally finding the cocaine is one thing — but Breeding decided to give the cocaine to other people, who then sold the drugs and gave him a cut of the profits they earned from the sales. All of the people involved in this case were arrested, and now Breeding faces the possibility of life in jail.

The obvious lesson here is that if you stumble upon any controlled substance for any reason, you should contact the authorities about it immediately. The last thing you should do is take the drugs and try to distribute or sell them.

However, regardless of the particular details in any given drug case, it is imperative for the accused to have appropriate legal counsel by his or her her side. The penalties and consequences associated with drug charges are serious and they can take your life away from you — as Breeding is finding out. Fighting back against these penalties is critical.

Source: The Journal, “Florida fisherman who hauled in $500,000 worth of cocaine faces life in prison,” Ben Guarino, Jan. 27, 2017