An Indiana couple that nursed a baby deer back to health, after finding it near death on their front porch, is now facing criminal charges because authorities say their actions were against the law.

Jeff and Jennifer Counceller are being charged with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer – a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and fines up to $500. However, the Councellers are adamant that the only thing they are guilty of is caring for a living creature that would have inevitably died had they not given it the attention it needed.

Yet, that does not appear to matter to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources who recently filed an eight-page report and a request for a special prosecutor from another county to see that the Councellers are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

And while this case has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among the public, the DNR says they have specific guidelines in place for people that encounter “abandoned” wildlife. Aside from the potential for disease and parasites, handling abandoned animals can leave a human scent that may cause the animal’s mother to not have anything to do with them.

Still, the Councellers say that not only did they not know what they were doing was illegal, their intentions were to simply nurse the animal back to health, gradually wean it from human contact, and then turn it loose back into the wild.

When the DNR first began their investigation, they determined that that deer was a threat to public safety and scheduled it to be euthanized. However, on the eve of being put down, the animal mysteriously escaped from an enclosure that the Councellers had been keeping it in on their 17-acre lot. Incident reports implicated Jennifer Counceller’s 80-year old father as the person responsible for freeing the deer – no proof was ever found.

Incidentally, the mysterious disappearance of the deer is why the Councellers believe the DNR is so aggressively seeking to file charges against them. "Sometimes, it's not always about the DNR laws," said Jennifer Counceller. "Sometimes it's about common sense and what's right in God's eyes. And that's what I'm going to stand for."