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Contracting Without A License During a Declared State of Emergency

With the approach of Hurricane Dorian, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a State of Emergency. 

Under Florida law, the offense of contracting without a license - normally a misdemeanor - automatically becomes a felony if it is committed during a declared State of Emergency.

The rationale behind this escalation in penalty (from maximum one year in jail up to five years in prison) is that people are vulnerable when natural disasters occur. The State wants to ensure that anybody performing contracting activities (a very broad list under Florida statutes) is doing so fairly and competently.  

As well, insurance companies - including Citizens, which is backed by the State of Florida - rely upon licensed professionals to assist insureds with hurricane repairs. The insurance companies, and the banks that issue the loans (hence have a property interest in your home) cannot afford to allow slipshod work to be done.

A state-issued license assures customers, insurance providers, and mortgage lenders, that the work will most likely be performed at a competent level.

If you are unlicensed, get licensed. Even if there is no State of Emergency, it is a crime to perform contracting duties without one.

If we are in a State of Emergency situation, you can go to state prison for doing work (even high-quality, professional-grade work) without a license.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade County.