Woman facing possible jail time after forgetting to return her library books

A Michigan woman who forgot to return two library books is now facing an arrest warrant — and even a possible prison sentence. 

Melinda Sanders-Jones borrowed the books from her local public library in Charlotte, Mich., more than two years ago, WILX-TV reported. She said she didn't even remember checking them out until a few months ago, when an employee at the Charlotte Community Library told her about the late books. 

The mother of five found the books in her son's bedroom and immediately returned them, figuring she'd receive a bill for the late fees. 

"I assumed that they had sent it to collections and that I would see it on the report or something like that," Sanders told WILX-TV. "I had no idea that criminal charges would be pressed."

But it wasn't that simple. Last week, Sanders got a call from her boss, who told her he'd learned there was a warrant out for her arrest. Sanders, who was in line to receive a promotion at work, assumed her boss was joking. 

"I was like, 'No, there's no way. There's no way I have a warrant,' " Sanders told WILX-TV.

Her boss was right, though. Charlotte Police Department Chief Paul Brentar confirmed to CNN this week that there is in fact an arrest warrant for Sanders, who is charged with failure to return rental property. 

The Michigan State Penal Code dictates that if the books' value is deemed to be less than $200, Sanders could face up to 93 days in jail. She could also be fined up to $500. 

Sanders has been unable to work while she waits for her case to be settled. She told WILX-TV that she completely disagrees with the charges. 

"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 said. 

The library, however, told CNN that "there's a lot of information that [Sanders] is not providing." It claims that she was warned about the late books numerous times — as it is library policy to notify a person after one week, two weeks, one month and three months past their due date. 

After four months, the library says it is required to submit a written letter warning the person that they will have to submit the case to police if the books are not returned within two more weeks. 

Sanders said she never received any of those notifications, as her address and phone number changed numerous times during the late period. She told WILX-TV that she was escaping an abusive relationship at the time. 

"It's just ridiculous," Sanders told the station. "Like, there is no reason that this needs to be happening." 

A pretrial meeting for Sanders' case is set for Thursday, Nov. 7.