CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX/Gray News) - It’s one thing to find out you owe a library fine for a book you forgot to return, but one woman in Charlotte just found out there’s a warrant for her arrest over some overdue books.
Sanders-Jones bookshelf where she found the books before she returned them. (Source: WILX/Gray News)
She said it could cost her her job.
Melinda Sanders-Jones vaguely remembers checking out the books "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Night" in 2017, but never dreamed it would end up with her in front of a judge and getting fingerprinted.
"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," she said.
The mother of five didn't even know she had the books still until she visited the library a few months back and was told she couldn't use the printer until she returned them. Sanders then called her fiance at the time to check their son's bookshelf, and sure enough, they were there. So she went home, grabbed them, and returned them to the library. She assumed she would get a notice about the fees.
“I assumed that they had sent it to collections and that I would see it on the report or something like that," she said. "I had no idea that criminal charges would be pressed.”
But that's exactly what happened. Sanders didn't even 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 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,” Sanders said.
The Charlotte Library said they can’t comment on individual cases, but told said late notices go out after a few weeks, a month, three months and again at four months. But Sanders 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,” she 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 is stuck waiting for her next court date and hoping the charges get dropped.
“Its 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.”
Her next court date is Thursday. 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.
Sanders is charged with failure to return rental property, which carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
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