Woman arrested for failure to return rented movie in 2005



PICKENS — A Pickens woman has made international news headlines after she spent a night in jail last week following her arrest for failure to return a rented video cassette in 2005.

Kayla Finley, 27, had gone to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office to speak with a deputy regarding a domestic dispute last Thursday when officers discovered a warrant for her arrest had been issued in 2005.

The warrant, charging her with petit larceny, alleges that Finley rented the movie “Monster-In-Law,” starring Jennifer Lopez, from Dalton’s Video in 2005 and failed to return it within 72 hours after the rental agreement expired. According to the warrant, Finley was sent a certified letter on Sept. 12, 2005, to return the video, but never responded.

Finley was arrested and spent the night in jail before being released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond Friday morning.

In a posting on the Fox Carolina Facebook page, Finley claimed that she never received notice regarding the rental and said if she had “it would have been taken care of immediately.”

“I didn’t rent a movie with the intent of keeping it,” she wrote, adding that she had moved out of state due to her husband’s job at the time and “honestly forgot all about it.”

“I’m no criminal,” she wrote, “but (the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office sure made me feel like I was.”

According to a release from sheriff’s office chief deputy Creed Hashe, a representative from Dalton’s Video appeared before a local magistrate in September of 2005 and presented information or evidence which was determined by the judge to establish probable cause that Finley had committed a crime.

“The practice of a civilian or a business owner to be able to appear before a magistrate and sign arrest warrants was commonplace for certain types of crimes during that time but is no longer the practice today in Pickens County,” Hashe said.

Hashe also pointed out that the offense falls within other similar types of statutes established by the S.C. Legislature that attempt to target and deter behavior associated with theft and larceny. In South Carolina, there is no acceptable level of approved theft in terms of the value of the stolen property.

“An individual is no less guilty of larceny or stealing in South Carolina when proven guilty in a court of law that they have stolen an item worth $15 versus someone that steals property valued at thousands of dollars,” he said.

“Cases that are several years old are tried every day and oftentimes involve circumstances where the value of the property stolen is minimal, such as incidents involving shoplifting, fraudulent checks or other petty thefts.”

Hashe noted that the sheriff’s office did not investigate the case and has not filed any charges against Finley.

“The sheriff of each of the 46 counties in South Carolina is mandated with the task to serve criminal process issued by a judge or court proceeding,” he wrote. “A sheriff or his deputy has no legal authority or discretion in regards to serving or not serving arrest warrants that are determined to be ‘valid on their face.’ All warrants must be served once the defendant is physically located and their identity verified.

He also noted that there is no expiration date or statue of limitations for criminal arrest warrants. Hashe said the reason Finley spent the night in jail was because there was no judge on duty until Friday morning.

Finley’s story has been featured on CNN, the Today Show and the BBC.