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Abscond means leaving a jurisdiction secretly or suddenly, e.g. to avoid service of process, arrest, or prosecution; or leaving with another person's money or property. Absconding is generally a criminal offense which may lead to imprisonment in jail. 

In Smith v. Johnson, the Supreme Court of Nebraska explained that “‘To abscond’ means to go in a clandestine manner out of the jurisdiction of the courts, or to be concealed in order to avoid their process. In a legal sense, a party absconds when he hides, conceals, or absents himself clandestinely, with the intent to avoid legal process.”

[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]