There is a difference with being charged with a crime at the state level and being charged with a crime at the federal level. At the state level, the state handles the prosecution of the crime, meaning that the legal processes and procedures are state-facilitated and mandated. When a case is in federal court, however, the case follows federal rules and regulations, which can be different, depending on the type of case that is being prosecuted. There are certain cases that are only heard at a federal level. These cases include, but are not limited to, fraud cases, hate crimes, child pornography cases, kidnapping cases and computer crimes.
Usually, federal courts handle cases that involve issues surrounding the U.S. Constitution, laws on the federal level, U.S. government, state disputes or disputes between the states and a foreign power. If the case centers around one of the abovementioned areas and it is ripe for federal court, then the case can be heard in federal court. This includes fraud cases, particularly Medicare fraud cases. Case in point, in Louisiana, there is a Medicare fraud case currently being prosecuted in federal court, in which a businesswoman in New Orleans was indicted for allegedly overseeing and operating a scheme that overbilled Medicare patients for the benefit of her company. This case is being heard in a federal legal venue because it is legally appropriate to do so.
The facts and circumstances surrounding the case will often dictate where the case will be heard. In order for a case to be in federal court in the first place, there has to be a viable case or controversy and there has to be standing. Having a case or controversy simply means that an actual dispute must exist between the parties. Standing exists where the person bringing the matter before the court has a solid, vested interest in the case, meaning that in some way, the case will have an impact on his or her wellbeing. Theses two elements must be present in order to bring a claim in federal court.
Some claims are more appropriate for federal court than state court.