In Florida, acting as a contractor without being licensed by the appropriate authorities is a serious crime. The laws regarding these types of issues are extremely complicated, and it is highly probable that someone accused of committing this offense was unaware that he or she was breaking the law. For this reason, it is extremely important that if you have been charged with operating as a contractor without a license, you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you defend your rights.Contractor Defined
A contractor is a qualified person who constructs, repairs, remodels, or demolishes a structure for payment. Submission of a bid to undertake a project of this nature also qualifies an individual to be considered a contractor, as long as the building is for sale or for the use of a person besides the contractor.
Contractors can fulfill many types of duties depending on the type of licensure for which they qualify. For instance, general, mechanical, building, residential, roofing, plumbing, and solar contractors are just a few of the categories of contracting positions that are recognized by law.Unlicensed Contracting
A person has committed the crime of contracting without a license when he or she:
- Falsely claims to have the appropriate licensing or impersonates someone who does have the necessary licensing;
- Provides false evidence to the board;
- Utilizes a license that is no longer current due to suspension or revocation;
- Works as a contractor or advertises as such;
- Operates a contracting business 60 days after the termination of the only licensed contractor;
- Undertakes a project for which a building permit is necessary; or
- Ignores a city law that regulates contracting and licensure.
The following individuals are exempt from Florida’s prohibition against unlicensed contracting:
- Contractors whose projects include bridges, streets, highways, and railroads; and
- Any employee of a licensed contractor who is acting within the scope of the duties permitted by the license and with the permission of his or her employer.
However, an employee is not exempt if the employer is not a registrant in the specific type of contracting, and the employee:
- Behaves as though he or she is licensed;
- Leads the consumer to believe that the employee has an ownership interest in the company; or
- Undertakes projects that constitute contracting.
In Florida, unlicensed contracting is usually charged as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties that include up to one year in jail, 12 months of probation, and the payment of a $1,000 fine.
If the accused has previously been convicted of the crime, then the new violation can be charged as a third degree felony, which has the much more severe penalties of a five year prison sentence, fives years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Charges of contracting without a license are very serious, but an experienced attorney will be able to help you present the best defense possible which could lead to the reduction or even dismissal of your charges. If you have been charged with a property offense, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.