Subpoena Law and Legal Definition

A subpoena is an order directed to an individual commanding him to appear in court on a certain day to testify or produce documents in a pending lawsuit. The power to subpoena a person is granted officers of the court, such as clerks of courts, attorneys and judges. A person may be subpoenaed to appear in court or any designated location to provide testimony for trial or deposition or produce documents or other evidence. A subpoena which requests items be brought with the person is called a "subpoena duces tecum".

If the person is required to travel more than a minimum distance, they may be required to be compensated for reasonable travel expenses. Failure to comply with a subpoena may subject a person to being held in contempt of court if it appears the absence was intentional or without cause.