Can I ignore a court summons recived through the mail?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I ignore a court summons recived through the mail?

I recently broke up with my bpyfriend
of 3 years. After he moved i continued
to get hos mail. I opened a letter that
was addressed to him because i thought
it was a refund for a ticket of his i
had previously paid. But its a court
summons for a stealing/theft charge. It
says he’ll get a bench warrent if he
doesn’t appear. Id REALLY like to avoid
contacting him. I thought these kinds
of papers had to be delivered by an
officer of the court? Or atleast signed
for by certified mail. I hate him but
dont want him to go to jail. Please

Asked on June 26, 2016 under Criminal Law, Missouri


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can ignore the summons because it does not pertain to you.  However.... it could and probably will result in a warrant being issued for your boyfriend when he fails to appear for court.
Summons for lower level offenses are not always served in person.  It is a best practice... but not always required.  It is technically a defendant's responsibility to keep a court apprised of any change of addresses.  However, to make the situation a little easier on everyone, you should mail the summons back to the court clerk with a note that you accidentally opened the letter before realizing it was not addressed to you and further advising the court that your boyfriend no longer lives at that address.   The other option is to simply call your boyfriend and let him know... but that may require contact with him that you have been trying to avoid.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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