Unlicensed Contractor Crimes in Hernando
If a person in Hernando County, FL, engages in activities that require licensure
under part 1 of ch. 489, F.S., without a valid certificate or registration, then that person can be charged with the crime of unlicensed contracting.
In addition to any criminal charges, under Florida Statute Section 489.13(3), the DBPR may impose an administrative fine of up to $10,000 on anyone found guilty of unlicensed contracting. In addition to the fine, DBPR might also impose investigative and legal costs for the prosecution of the offense.
Many of these investigations begin with a complaint by a resident in Hernando County, FL, of incomplete and substandard home repairs.
Local law enforcement agencies also investigate crimes for unlicensed contracting when they receive a complaint from the DBPR or CLIP.
Additionally, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office conducts sting operations to catch people engaged in unlicensed contracting. The sting operations target workers responding to ads within Hernando County, FL.
Attorney for Unlicensed Contractor in Hernando County, FL
The five attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients in Hernando County, FL, charged with the crime of unlicensed contracting.
We represent clients in the construction industry, as well as handyman service providers, and property managers throughout Brooksville, FL, and the surrounding areas in Hernando County.
We are familiar with the tactics used by undercover officers with the Economic Crimes Unit of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office during sting operations targeting handymen and workers in the construction industry.
We also understand the tactics used by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Hernando County Building Division, who are involved in these investigations.
We can also represent you during any administrative action initiated by the DBPR for contracting without a license.
Types of Unlicensed Contracting Crimes in Florida
Florida Statute Section 489.127(1) prohibits an unlicensed person in Hernando County, FL, from doing any of the following:
- engaging in or advertising themselves or a business organization as available to engage in contracting;
- using or attempting to use a suspended or revoked certificate or registration;
- willfully or deliberately disregarding or violating any municipal or county ordinance relating to unlicensed contractors;
- commencing or performing work without a required building permit;
- falsely holding themselves or a business organization out as a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant;
- falsely impersonating a certificate holder or registrant;
- presenting another person’s registration or certificate as their own;
- knowingly giving false or forged evidence to the board or a board member; or
- operating a contracting business organization 60 days after the termination of its only qualifying agent, without designating another primary qualifying agent.
The authorities argue that these crimes cause the loss of work for legitimate contractors by obtaining work that would normally go to properly licensed contractors.
Additionally, unlicensed contractors can often undercut the prices quoted by licensed contractors, especially when the unlicensed contractor fails to obtain the proper permits or provide workers’ compensation insurance for its employees.
Penalties and Punishments for Unlicensed Contracting
Under Section 489.127(2), F.S., the penalties and punishments for unlicensed contracting depend on the way the crime was committed, and whether the person has any prior convictions.
For example, a violation of Florida Statute Section 489.127(1) can be charged as:
- first degree misdemeanor for a first conviction; or
- third degree felony for a second or subsequent conviction.
Even a first offense might be charged as a third degree felony if a person commits a violation during a state of emergency declared by an executive order of the Governor of the State of Florida.
Violation of a Regulatory Law as a “Minor Violation”
A person who is registered but working outside of their registration’s geographical scope might also be charged with unlicensed contracting, however, for a first offense will only be issued a notice of noncompliance.
In fact, Section 489.131(2), F.S., explains the intent of the Floria Legislature to require that any local jurisdiction agency charged with enforcing regulatory laws should issue a notice of noncompliance as its first response to a minor violation of any regulatory law in any instance in which it is reasonable to assume that the violator was unaware of such a law or unclear as to how to comply with it.
A violation of any regulatory law is a “minor violation” if it does not result in economic or physical harm to a person or adversely affect the public health, safety, or welfare, or creates a significant threat of such harm.
A notice of noncompliance should not be accompanied by a fine or another disciplinary penalty.
It should identify the specific ordinance that is being violated, provide information on how to comply with the ordinance, and specify a reasonable time for the violator to comply with the ordinance.
Actions by Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board
In addition to the criminal penalties set forth in s. 489.127, F.S., the CILB is empowered to take any of the following actions against a certificate holder or registrant, engaged in certain acts, including the uncertified and unregistered practice of contracting:
- deny, suspend, or revoke renewal or issuance of a certificate or registration;
- place the individual on probation or reprimand;
- require financial restitution to a consumer harmed financially in an amount, not to exceed $10,000 per violation;
- assess costs associated with investigation and prosecution; and
- require continuing education.
See Florida Statute Section 489.129(1).
Hernando County Building Department Forms – Visit the website of the Hernando County Building Department (HCBD) to learn how to electronically submit contractor registration forms and applications through the Online Permitting System. Find out more about applying for a contracting or single-family permit, inspections, or a contractor’s license or specialty license in Hernando County, FL. Every year, the Building Division in Hernando County investigates hundreds of unlicensed contractor-related cases and additional violations for unpermitted work.
This article was last updated on Friday, November 18, 2022.