What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order requiring someone to either do something or provide something. Typically the person is required to testify as a witness in court or at a deposition. Instead of requiring someone to testify, a subpoena can also compel someone to produce or permit the examination and copying of documents, books or other objects. Sometimes subpoenas require both – a command to appear to testify and to produce documents or other things.
Subpoena comes from the Latin words sub - meaning “under” and poena - meaning “penalty.” A subpoena should be obeyed as the penalty for not doing so can lead to being held in contempt of court, arrest or even punishment in jail.