Local 10 reports that the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) is conducting sting operations prior to hurricane season in an effort to catch unlicensed contractors.
Florida law defines a "contractor" as the person, who you hire, who is qualified to do the job requested. A contractor must be licensed by the State of Florida.
Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor, unless you have been previously found guilty of the offense, in which case it becomes a felony.
It is also a felony to contract without a license during a state of emergency.
BSO deputies claim that unlicensed contractors tend to come to the South Florida area during hurricane season, for services such as installing hurricane shutters or repairing hurricane damage.
This past week, detectives set up a sting operation. Undercover deputies invited contractors to their homes and busted them for offering to do work they are not licensed to perform.
Many times, the State Attorney's Office will charge unlicensed contractors with grand theft, alleging that the hiring of an unlicensed contractor gives rise to theft by deception. This is especially true if an allegedly unlicensed contractor does not complete their work.
Most of the grand theft cases are really civil cases. Contracting without a license is one thing, but having the intent to steal is another.
Also, many unlicensed contractors work under the license of a qualifying agent. That is, somebody with a license vouches for the unlicensed contractor. This is perfectly legal.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have represented and presently represent individuals charged with contracting without a license.
If you or a loved one are facing contracting without a license charges in Miami-Dade or Broward, call me.