This past week, the Broward Sheriff’s Office set up a sting operating targeting suspected unlicensed contractors.
Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor in the State of Florida punishable by up to 1 year in jail. If you are contracting without a license during a state of emergency, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. You may also face a felony charge if you have been previously convicted of contracting without a license.
BSO deputies set up in a home and invited contractors to come over to offer bids for a renovation project. In contractor stings, cops typically find contractors online through personal ad sites such as Craig’s List.
In all, 30 people were arrested.
Contracting without a license can be charged along with grand theft if you actually begin work on a project and accept money that exceeds $300. This is because the law in Florida considers the fact that you are not licensed to be deceptive, therefore satisfying the elements of grand theft.
All contractors must be licensed in the State of Florida.
Under Florida law, “contracting” means “a person who is responsible for a qualifying construction project and the person who, for compensation, undertakes to, submits a bid to, or does himself or herself or by others construct, repair, alter, remodel, add to, demolish, subtract from, or improve any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate, for others or for resale to others.”
Penalties can range from diversion programs to probation to jail. For felony contracting without a license, you can face prison time.
Restitution is almost always at issue in a contracting without a license case. The alleged victim will almost always want their money back, even if you completed work on the project.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney in Miami-Dade and Broward representing clients charged with contracting without a license.