With hurricanes, the demand tourist attractions, and the steadily growing
population, Miami-Dade County has long been a hotbed of construction activity.
However, like many professionals, the State of Florida requires that contractors
be licensed by the State.
To summarize Florida law's definition of a "contractor,"
it is "the person who is qualified for, and shall only be responsible
for, the project contracted for..." That means, the contractor is
the project manager; the person who is hired to do the ultimate job, whether
it is a remodel or the actual building of a new home. The contractor is
the person you hire to do the job.
Contracting without a license is a first-degree
punishable by 1 year in jail, 1 year probation, and a $1,000 fine.
Also, when dealing with contracting without a license cases, restitution
is always an issue as the alleged victim will seek compensation for the
work performed by an unlicensed contractor.
It should be noted that any unlicensed person who commits the crime of
contracting without a license after having been previously found guilty
of contracting without a license commits a felony of the third-degree,
punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Additionally, if the cost of the project is over $300, the State Attorney's
Office has been known to charge people with the crime of
, as the State says that it is "theft by deception" to obtain
money for a contracting job when the alleged victim believes that you
Also, if you commit the crime of contracting without a license during a
state of emergency as declared by the Governor (such as during a hurricane),
you commit a felony of the third-degree as well.
Contracting without a license is a defensible charge. This is because it
is common for an unlicensed person to work under the license of a "qualifying
agent." This qualifying agent is the person who permits the unlicensed
person to work underneath them. In this situation, a person cannot be
convicted of contracting without a license because they are protected
by the qualifying agent's license.
In terms of penalties,
Pretrial Diversion (PTD)
is typically available for first-time offenders when the alleged victim
agrees and the cost of the construction is not too high. Restitution will
likely be a condition of PTD. As always, completion of PTD means that
the charge is dismissed. If the client is eligible, they may have their
If the contracting without a license charge is accompanied by a felony
grand theft charge, Pretrial Intervention (PTI) may be available provided
the restitution amount is under $5,000. If the restitution amount exceeds
$5,000, the accused may sometimes "pay down" the restitution
in advance in order to get the balance under $5,000. Then they can enroll
in PTI and earn the dismissal upon completion.
I was a Miami-Dade prosecutor
, I saw contracting without a license cases where the restitution exceeded
$100,000. In that case, the defendant was also charged with first-degree
grand theft, facing 30 years in prison due to the high value.
As I have mentioned on many previous posts, cases where alleged victims
are actively involved in the prosecutions spell trouble for accused people.
State Attorneys are elected officials, and they get re-elected by keeping
their citizens happy. When victims feel that they are not being heard,
they go to the newspapers, who in turn will slam the elected State Attorneys.
It's vicious and unfair political nonsense, but it happens everyday.
These are political offices, and politics will come into play when an
alleged victim wants blood.
I have dealt with these matters many times. I practice
in Miami-Dade County, representing clients charged with a variety of crimes,
including contracting without a license.
to schedule a consultation so that we may further discuss your case.