Contracting Without a Certified Florida Contractor License
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Gone are the days of the renaissance man who could help you install that extra powder room or set you up with some new lighting. With current regulations, individuals must have a contractor license by the state or registered with their municipality. Those found to be contracting without a certified contractor’s license can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony offense and can face significant fines.
Who Needs a Florida Contractor License?
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation requires every individual who works in the construction areas to go through a Florida state construction examination and licensing process in order to do any type of residential or commercial construction. Once your application and licensing fees are submitted, the Florida state licensing board needs time to review them before you can receive an official Florida contractor’s license. So, how much work can you do without a contractor license? The construction areas include, but are not limited to:
- Building and home remodeling;
- Building and home repairs;
- New construction; and
- Related real estate improvements.
The licensing process can be completed through a local Florida department licensing office, such as the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or Florida’s DBPR website portal, which also handles other types of certified contractor licenses for a variety of other professions. Through the DBPR, you can apply to receive an official Florida contractor license or a general contractor license. You can also choose to be licensed state-wide (a certified license or contractor’s license through the DBPR) or just within your area (a registered license via your municipality). If you choose to be a specialized contractor, your license will only cover work that aligns with your specialty. That means that if you do work outside the scope of your contractor’s license, you could be charged with contracting without a certified license even though you have a specialized contractor license.
A Florida general contractor, on the other hand, can do a variety of tasks under their license and work as pool contractors, roofing contractors, plumbing contractors, electrical contractors, etc.
What Can a Handyman Do Without a License in Florida?
If you are a handyman who only does minor repairs, you are not required to carry a contractor’s license. However, if your repairs are larger in scope, it’s a good idea to get a certified license in order to protect yourself and your business. So, what can a handyman do without a contracting license in Florida? Minor repairs include but are not limited to:
- Small electrical work and plumbing work is allowed
- Caulking and painting
- Tile cleaning and repair
- Basic yard work and maintenance
- Minor carpentry
- Replacement and repair of interior doors and windows
More complicated contracting work will require paying a licensing fee in order to take a Florida contractor license exam and obtain a Florida contractor license.
What Do You Need to Get a Contractor’s License?
To learn more about the professional regulation and requirements for a specific license in Florida, check the DBPR website portal.
In general, you will need to show that you are well-versed in your field and that you have the knowledge to safely do the work that falls within the purview of the registered license. You will also need to show that you are insured based on licensing requirements.
Who Can Be Charged With Contracting Without a License
If you are performing work that falls under one of the categories listed above, you run the risk of being charged with a crime.
Tampa area officials are cracking down on contracting without a registered license—if you are found to be doing contracting work without the proper license and do not work legally, seek legal help immediately. Not doing so could jeopardize your business and lead to stiff penalties.
It’s not just contracting without a license, not having a certified Florida contractor license or general contractor license; it is failing to follow local government regulations and laws. Prosecutors can compound that one charge and turn it into a much larger case by including theft charges or property damage insurance charges.
Well, if you received payment for your work while contracting without a license and if you led your clients to believe that you were properly licensed, you could also be charged with theft for any of the payments you received for your work during that period that the state has declared you were working without the proper contractor license.
Payments that are less than $300 would be considered petit theft, which is a first-degree misdemeanor. Payments over $300 would be considered grand theft, which is a felony. The severity of the felony charge would increase depending on the amount of the payment.
But what if you’re just helping a friend with their remodel? Can you be charged with contracting without a license? Thankfully, no. As long as you aren’t receiving any compensation, it’s ok to help family and friends with their DIY projects.
What is the Punishment for Contracting Without a License?
Contracting without a license is a first-degree misdemeanor. Those convicted of contracting without a license or not having a Florida contractor license could face a sentence of up to one year in jail, one year of probation, or $1,000 in fines. The Florida DBPR may also impose its own fines in addition to those imposed by the court.
If there are additional charges, like that of theft mentioned above or property damage insurance charges, the punishment will be worse.
If you are charged with contracting without a license during a state of emergency, rather than facing a first-degree misdemeanor charge, you will face a third-degree felony charge. A conviction on a third-degree felony, which is a Level 1 offense according to the Florida Criminal Punishment code, may lead to a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, five years of probation, or up to $5,000 in fines.
If you have previously been convicted of contracting without a contractor license, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. A conviction may lead to a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, five years of probation, or up to $5,000 in fines. And this is before the issue of payment comes up.
Defending Against a Contracting Without a Licence Charge in Florida
It is possible to defend against a charge of contracting without contractor’s licenses in Florida. It’s crucial to note, however, that because each case is different, seeking the advice of a qualified Tampa defense lawyer should always be your first step.
As with other criminal charges, to defend against contractor licensing charges, we would look over the procedural elements to determine if there are any challenges we could raise concerning the evidence gathering process.
In addition, if you have not been paid for the contracting work you have done if, for example, you were merely helping a friend out with a demolition project or something in that vein, then we could challenge the charge itself. As mentioned before, it’s ok to help friends and family out with construction projects as long as you aren’t receiving any compensation, especially if you don’t have a Florida contractor license.
As an alternative, we can also work on your behalf to negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a more lenient sentence.
Facing Charges? Seek Legal Advice Now!
If you’ve been charged with contracting without a license in Florida, don’t lose hope. Contact Mike G Law for expert advice 24/7.
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