Compulsory Process Clause Law and Legal Definition

Compulsory Process Clause refers to the clause of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gives the criminal defendants the subpoena power for obtaining witnesses in their favor. That is to have a court compel the appearance of witnesses who will benefit him/her. This clause reads "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right...to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor."

This guarantee was one of several provisions in the Sixth Amendment designed to reject earlier English practices that did not permit persons accused of felonies or treason to introduce witnesses in their own defense. Compulsory process encompasses not only a subpoena, which is a command to appear at a particular time and location to provide testimony upon a certain matter, but also a bench warrant, which is a written order commanding a law enforcement officer to seize the person named and bring that person into court.