Michigan woman faces jail time after returning library books 2 years late

CHARLOTTE, Mich. -- It's one thing to find out you owe a library fine for a book you forgot to return, but one Michigan woman found out there was a warrant for her arrest over some overdue books.

Melinda Sanders-Jones vaguely remembers checking out the books "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Night" in 2017, but never dreamt it would end up with her in front of a judge and getting fingerprinted, WILX reported.

"I really don't think that going to jail over those two books is OK, and I definitely didn't want to steal their property," Sanders-Jones said.

The mother of five didn't even know she still had the books until she visited the library a few months back and was told she couldn't use the printer until she returned them. Sanders-Jones called her fiancé at the time to check their son's bookshelf, and sure enough, the books were there.

She went home, grabbed the books, and returned them to the library. She assumed she would get a notice about the late fees.

"I assumed that they had sent it to collections and that I would see it on my report or something like that. I had no idea that criminal charges were going to be pressed," Sanders-Jones said.

That's exactly what happened. Sanders-Jones didn't know there was a warrant for her arrest until her boss called her after doing a background check that she needed for a promotion.

"My boss called me on Tuesday to inform me that I had a warrant and I had to pull over because I started laughing and he was like 'no, I'm serious.' And I was like, no, there's no way, there's no way I have a warrant," Sanders-Jones recalled.

The Charlotte Library said they can't comment on individual cases, but said late notices go out after a few weeks, a month, three months, and again at four months.

Sanders-Jones said she never got them, because she was moving a lot while trying to get out of an abusive relationship.

"Any mail that was there, I didn't get," Sanders-Jones explained. "Soon I ended in the Siren Shelter that's here in Charlotte that helps with domestic violence victims and your address is confidential. I had to change my phone number...I had to change my entire life."

After a court date, getting fingerprinted, and a whole lot of anxiety, Sanders-Jones is stuck waiting for her next court date, and hoping the charges get dropped.

"It's just ridiculous," she said. "Like, there is no reason that this needs to be happening. Like I said, they would have had a better chance of getting their money if they would have sent it to collections...because I would have known."

Sanders-Jones is charged with failure to return rental property, which carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Sanders-Jones' next court date is Nov. 7th. She can't work for her current employer until the case is settled. She's hoping her promotion and clients are still there when she returns.