There is no escaping a Google penalty without following the rules and doing the hard work to clear your name. It is old news that if you have suffered a penalty on your site and you moveto a new domain and redirect the URLs to that new domain, the penalty stays around thanks to the redirects.
However, some SEO’s may attempt to escape the penalty by moving their site to a new domain without redirecting the URLs. That way, theoretically Google can’t follow you and put the penalty on your moved site too. Unfortunately, Google’s John Mueller has quashed the notion pretty thoroughly.
In a recent Google Webmaster Hangout, Mueller explained that even if you move the site and don’t redirect, Google may still find you and apply the penalty again. Roughly 23 minutes into the video below, John answers Barry Schwartz’s question on the topic by explaining that if you just copy and paste the pages onto a new site without many changes, Google may still be able to pick up on the site move. Even if you do not set up 301 redirects or use the change address tool in Google Webmaster Tools, Google could potentially still know you moved domains and pass along the penalty.
John does explicitly explain in the video that Google doesn’t rely on their signals alone to pass along the penalty. But, if they receive signs that you are trying to hide the same site elsewhere under a new URL without fixing the core issues with your site, they will investigate and likely apply the penalty.
In the end, you will have to do the hard work you are avoiding to ever get rid of the penalty completely. It may sometimes be better to completely tear down a site and start from scratch to fix the issues that earned you the penalty to begin with, but you can’t just run away from it forever.
You can view the video below or here.