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A subpoena is a written order to compel an individual to give testimony on a particular subject, often before a court, but sometimes in other proceedings (such as a Congressional inquiry). Failure to comply with such an order to appear may be punishable as contempt.

The rules controlling subpoenas in Federal matters are found in Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

A subpoena can be more formally referred to as a subpoena ad testificandum, a subpoena to testify.

See also