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State vs. Federal Claims

If you are involved in a legal dispute, you must determine what court to file a case in so you can seek a legal remedy.  There are different options including a state court in California and a federal court.  However, not every case can be brought in every court. The court where you file your claim must have jurisdiction over the case.  state vs. federal court

An experienced Irvine, CA trial attorney at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can help you to determine where your case should be filed. Our attorneys will explain the differences between state vs. federal claims and will provide you with comprehensive advice on the best strategic approach to take when making your claim. Call today to learn more.

Understanding State vs. Federal Claims

The authority of the federal government is limited by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. The federal government passes laws only on a limited number of issues, such as matters that affect interstate commerce. The majority of laws are passed on a state level. This means that when you want to seek a legal remedy, you will usually go to state court.

At the state level, there are small claims courts, family courts, probate courts, criminal courts and civil courts of general jurisdiction. In many situations, you will file your claim in a civil court when you need to take legal action. For example, if you suffer an injury and want to sue or if a contract was breached, you will file a lawsuit in a state civil court.  The court must not only have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim, but also jurisdiction over the parties involved. This means the defendant must have sufficient connections to the state so if it is fair for the court’s ruling to apply to him.

Federal courts differ from state courts because they have more limited subject matter jurisdiction. There are some federal courts, like bankruptcy and tax courts, that are the only courts with authority to preside over certain kinds of cases. Federal courts that handle civil claims, on the other hand, handle a very limited number of claims.  These courts often have concurrent jurisdiction with state courts, which means that the case could be heard either in federal court or in state court. The plaintiff gets to choose where to file, although the defendant could also make a motion to have a case moved to a federal court if the plaintiff files in state court and there is concurrent jurisdiction.

To make a civil claim in federal court, the case must arise out of federal law or involve a federal question. For example, if your case is based on constitutional law or on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which is a federal law) then the case arises out of a federal question and a claim can be made in federal court.

Diversity jurisdiction may also allow a case to be made in federal court. For example, if the plaintiff and defendant are from different states and there is more than $75,000 in controversy involved in the claim, then the case may be brought in federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction even if it would normally be a state court matter.

An experienced Irvine, CA trial lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can help you to determine the differences between state vs. federal claims and can advise you as you file your claim in the appropriate court. We can represent you throughout your case to help you take the best strategic approach to your claim. Call today to learn more.