PLAINTIFF

The person who initiates a lawsuit. The person who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint is called the plaintiff. When the document that initiates a lawsuit is called a petition rather than a complaint, the initiating person is usually referred to as the petitioner rather than the plaintiff.

DEFENDANT
In criminal cases, the person accused of the crime. In civil matters, the person or organization that is being sued. The person against whom a lawsuit is filed is usually called the defendant. In some states, or in certain types of actions, the defendant is called the respondent. The term respondent is also used to designate the person responding to an appeal. At common law a defendant cannot have judgment to recover a sum of money of the plaintiff, but this rule is, in some cases, altered by statute.

Affidavit
An affidavit is voluntarily made without any cross-examination of the affiant and, therefore, is not the same as a deposition, a record of an examination of a witness or a party made either voluntarily or pursuant to a subpoena, as if the party were testifying in court under cross-examination. A pleading²a request to a court to exercise its judicial power in favor of a party that contains allegations or conclusions of facts that are not necessarily verified²differs from an affidavit, which states facts under oath.

Evidence
The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e.g., oral or written statements, such as an affidavit) and exhibits (e.g., physical objects) or other documentary material which is admissible (i.e., allowed to be considered by the trier of fact, such as jury) in a judicial or administrative proceeding (e.g., a court of law).

Prosecution
The institution and carrying on of a suit in a court of law or equity, to obtain some right, or to redress and punish some wrong; the carrying on of a judicial proceeding in behalf of a complaining party, as distinguished from defense.

Accused
The generic name for the defendant in a criminal case. A person becomes accused within the meaning of a guarantee of Speedy Trial only at the point at which either formal indictment or information has been returned against him or her, or when he or she becomes subject to actual restraints on liberty imposed by arrest, whichever occurs first.

Conviction
The terms conviction and convicted refer to the final judgment on a verdict of guilty, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere. They do not include a final judgment that has been deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed, or otherwise rendered inoperative.