The owner of a now-defunct Pickens video store has asked the court system to drop a charge that landed a woman in jail for failing to return a VHS movie she rented nine years ago, authorities said Friday.
Pickens County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said that “the former victim in this case (Dalton Video) has elected to withdraw the larceny charge lodged against Kayla M. Finley.”
“The decision to not prosecute this offense was made solely by the victim after considering all of the factors in this incident including the level of media attention that has been directed at the victim, the defendant and to local law enforcement tasked with serving the charging document issued by the court,” Hashe said in a statement released Friday.
On Feb. 13, Finley went into the Pickens law enforcement center and was arrested as she tried to lodge an unrelated complaint, Hashe said.
A records check discovered a warrant against Finley requested by the video store owner and issued by a magistrate in 2005, Hashe said.
Finley was jailed overnight and released on a personal recognizance bond.
Hashe said the Sheriff’s Office is not involved in the case, and he noted that the charge was “initially brought forward by the business and not the Sheriff’s Office.”
The law regarding failure to return rented property no longer exists, but officers had no choice but to take Finley into custody because the warrant was active, Hashe said.
State legislators, however, have raised questions about whether Finley should have been arrested.
State Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens Republican who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will look into whether lawmakers can do anything to prohibit arrests of people charged with crimes no longer on the books on behalf of companies no longer in business.
Rep. Greg Delleney, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said doing something legislatively to prevent people from being arrested for crimes no longer on the books “is certainly something we would take a look at.”
Delleney said the Sheriff’s Office could have examined the warrant “to see what it was, to see if the law was still in existence. And then if it wasn’t, they didn’t have to serve the warrant.”
Martin said video rental businesses got a law passed decades ago to make keeping videos a crime, but he said that crime was repealed in 2010 when the Legislature passed a sentencing reform bill that cleaned up antiquated statutes.
In 2005, Finley failed to return “Monster-In-Law,” Hashe said. The movie is a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda. The arrest warrant listed the movie’s value at less than $1,000.