Contracting Without a License in Florida

Under Florida Statute 489.127, the crime of Contracting Without a License is committed when a person engages in the business of contracting for compensation without being properly licensed in the State of Florida.

Activities Requiring a Contractor's License

In Florida, a person must possess a contractor's license to perform the following activities for compensation. [1]

  • Advertising, marketing, or bidding out contracting services.
  • Building and home remodeling;
  • Building and home repairs;
  • Demolition;
  • New construction; and
  • Related real estate improvements.

General Contractor vs. Specialized Contractor

A general contractor may perform any activity requiring licensure as a contractor under Chapter 489. However, a specialized contractor may only perform those contracting activities they are specifically licensed for.

Examples of specialized contractors are:

  • Building Contractor
  • Residential Contractor
  • Class A, B or C Air Conditioning Contractor
  • Mechanical Contractor
  • Plumbing Contractor
  • Pollutant Storage Systems Contractor
  • Roofing Contractor
  • Sheet Metal Contractor
  • Solar Contractor
  • Swimming Pool/Spa Contractor
    • Commercial Pool/Spa Contractor
    • Residential Pool/Spa Contractor
    • Servicing Contractor
  • Underground Utility and Excavation Contractor
  • Contractor's License

    In Florida, every contractor, whether a general contractor or a specialized contractor, must possess either a certified contractor's license issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), or a registered contractor's license issued by the specific municipality where the contracting work is being performed.

    Certified Contractor's License

    A certified contractor's license is issued by the Florida DBPR and allows a contractor to work anywhere in Florida.

    Registered Contractor's License

    A registered contractor's license is issued by specific municipalities and a person is only allowed to perform contracting work in the municipality that issued the registered contractor's license.

    Importantly, a registered contractor's license is not the same thing as an occupational license. An occupational license simply shows you registered to conduct business in a municipality, it does not mean the municipality authorized you to perform contracting work.

    A registered contractor's license shows you are proficient in the field of contracting and the municipality specifically authorized you to perform contracting work within their jurisdiction.

    Penalties for Contracting Without a License

    The crime of Contracting Without a License is classified as a First Degree Misdemeanor.

    If convicted of Contracting Without a License in Florida, a judge can impose up to one (1) year in jail, one (1) year of probation, or $1,000 in fines in addition to any civil penalties imposed by the Florida DBPR.

    Additionally, a person who engages in contracting without a license and falsely asserts they are properly licensed can also be convicted of theft if they received payment for their contracting services. [2]

    Contracting Without a License with a Prior Conviction

    Contracting Without a License after having been previously been convicted of Contracting without a License is a Third Degree Felony, which is assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

    If convicted of Contracting without a License with a prior conviction in Florida, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

    • Up to five (5) years in prison.
    • Up to five (5) years of probation.
    • Up to $5,000 in fines.

    Contracting Without a License During a State of Emergency

    Contracting Without a License During a State of Emergency is a Third Degree Felony, which is assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

    If convicted of Contracting Without a License During a State of Emergency in Florida, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

    • Up to five (5) years in prison.
    • Up to five (5) years of probation.
    • Up to $5,000 in fines.

    Defenses to Contracting Without a License

    In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Contracting Without a License are:

    Uncompensated Assistance

    So long as a person is not compensated in any way, a person may assist another person in constructing, repairing, altering, remodeling, demolishing, or improving, any building or structure without being licensed.

    A typical example would be if a person assisted a neighbor in building an addition to the neighbor's home. So long as the person was not compensated in any way for their work, they would not be committing Unlicensed Contracting.

    Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

    If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Contracting Without a License in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

    The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

    References

    1. Florida Statute 489.105(3)
    2. Iglesias v. State, 676 So. 2d 75 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996)