Small Claims Terminology

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In a civil case, the person or organization sued by the plaintiff in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.

A legal way for children to become adults before they're 18. Once a child is emancipated, his or her parents don't have custody or control of him or her anymore.

A person that promises to be responsible for the debt of another person if that person fails to pay the debt on time.

Guardian ad litem
A court-appointed adult that represents a minor child or legally incompetent person.

A person that brings an action; the party that complains or sues in a civil case.

Additional terms and their definitions are found at the California Courts Self-Help Center.