CHARLOTTE, Mich. — A Michigan woman was surprised to find out Tuesday she had a warrant out for her arrest — for failing to return two library books.
Mindy Jones, 27, learned of the warrant Tuesday afternoon after her boss conducted a background check she needed for a promotion.
Jones is charged with misdemeanor failure to return rental property, punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a $500 fine. The Charlotte Community Library pursued the charges.
"This is kind of extreme for two library books," Jones said. "I work full-time and I'm a mom. I'm the head of my household. I can’t afford to take off work for two library books."
The warrant was issued two years ago. Jones said she returned the books six months ago after she went to the library to use the printer and was told she couldn't because she had books checked out.
She found the books — "Where the Sidewalk Ends," by Shel Silverstein, and the "Night" trilogy by Elie Wiesel — on her son's bookshelf, she said. She returned the books and figured any fines she owed would be sent to a collections agency, because she said she never received a bill or overdue notice of any sort from the library.
Marlena Arras, director of financial services for the Charlotte Community Library, said Jones is not telling the full story, but declined to elaborate.
Arras said the library notifies card-holders about overdue books when they're a week, two weeks, a month, three months and about four months overdue before turning the fines over to Eaton County's economic crimes unit.
If after three months, the book has not been returned, the library considers it stolen, Arras said. She said the library does not submit cases to the crime unit unless the value of the items is more than $50.
"We try to send out as many notifications as we can, but it does happen," Arras said. "If we have not received our property back, the terms of the rental are out the window and it's considered stolen."
The publishers' websites list the prices of the books Jones checked out at $19.99 and $18.95, respectively. Arras would not confirm the number of books Jones had overdue, or the value of the items.
Jones said frustrated with the library and court because she'd never gotten any notice that she still had overdue books. In 2017, when the books were checked out, she said she was a victim of domestic violence and had changed her phone number and address.
She figures the library didn't have her updated contact information, but knew the Eaton County courthouse did, because she has a child custody case in that court.
"I understand I made an agreement with the library to check out books...but I feel like this is overkill," Jones said. "The fact that a prosecuting attorney had this on his desk and decided that me having two library books out was enough to issue a warrant for my arrest, that’s what concerns me.
"If I deserve to go to jail for two library books, that’s absurd."
The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately respond for comment about how often charges are filed for library books that are not returned.
Follow Kara Berg on Twitter @karaberg95.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Michigan woman facing criminal charge for not returning 2 library books says its 'overkill'.