The New International Encyclopædia/Principal (legal term)
PRINCIPAL (Lat. principalis, chief, from princeps, first, chief, prince). A legal term having several different applications. Thus, in criminal law, all actually participating in the commission of a crime or who are present aiding and abetting in its commission are principals, while those who aid or abet before or after its commission are termed accessories. Actual physical presence is not necessary to constitute one a principal. One may be a principal who is only constructively present at the commission of the crime by aiding in its commission at the time. See Accessory.
In the law of agency, one who appoints an agent is called a principal. (See Agent; Master and Servant.) In the law of suretyship, the principal debtor for whom another becomes surety is known as a principal. See Suretyship; Frauds, Statute of.