Unlicensed Contracting in Pinellas County
In 2017, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to investigate county ordinance and state law violations for contracting without a license.
On July 1, 2018, the licensing board was abolished and the responsibility for licensing was turned over to the Pinellas County Government.
Since that transition, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has continued investigating criminal violations while working directly with the Pinellas County Government.
The stated goal of these sting operations is to help protect citizens being exploited by those engaged in unlicensed contracting and workers’ compensation fraud.
During recent sting operations, several detectives with the Economic Crimes Unit of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with detectives with the Florida Department of Financial Services to conduct elaborate sting operations.
The sting operation targeted workers suspected of:
- workers’ compensation fraud in violation of Section 440.105; and
- unlicensed contracting in violation of Section 489.127.
According to a recently issued press release on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office website, the most recent sting operation occurred on November 3-5, 2018, in Madeira Beach, FL.
Attorney for Unlicensed Contracting in Pinellas County, FL
We represent clients who receive a citation from the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board for violating Florida Statute Section 489 or Pinellas County Code 22-14-1 through 22-14-8. The citations are issued under Florida Statute Section 489.127(5)(a).
We can help you appear before a Special Magistrate or the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to contest the charges brought against you.
We also represent clients arrested in Pinellas County for engaging in construction work without a valid workers’ compensation policy or lawfully issued permit and failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance.
Defenses that can be asserted after an arrest during one of these sting operations include:
- a showing that the suspect never agreed to do the specific work as alleged;
- a showing that the work didn’t require a license or workers’ compensation; or
- the undercover detectives entrapped a worker not predisposed to commit the crime.
We fight these cases throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which includes Pinellas County and Pasco County, FL.
Visit our office near the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) courthouse in Pasco County. We also have offices in downtown Tampa and New Port Richey.
Contact us to discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation.
Call (813) 250-0500.
How Pinellas Detectives Set Up the Unlicensed Contractor Sting
During the most recent sting operation, detectives used several vacant storefronts in Madeira Beach, in Pinellas County, to solicit suspects being set up for charges of unlicensed specialty contracting.
The sting operation worked by having the suspects come to the job site to discuss a request to perform construction work at the stores.
To find the suspects, the detectives used advertisements found on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Craigslist, and Next Door.
The suspects were then asked to come to the business and meet with undercover detectives posing as property owners.
The undercover detectives then asked the suspects to perform various projects, including tile work, drywall, painting, or electrical work.
The detectives claim that each arrested suspect agreed to engage in this illegal contracting work without a license or pulling a permit.
Who Was Arrested for Performing Construction Jobs without a License
During a recent sting operation, more than 35 suspects were arrested on 65 criminal charges, including workers’ compensation fraud, unlicensed specialty contracting violations, and other crimes related to unlicensed contracting.
At least two additional charges were referred to the State Attorney’s Office for review after the undercover operation.
110 suspects were arrested and over 240 criminal charges since the inception of the first undercover sting, “Operation Nailed,” on August 7, 2017.
Florida Law Related to Unlicensed Contracting Crimes and County Ordinances
Section 125.69, Florida Statutes, authorizes counties in the State of Florida to impose fines or imprisonment for violations of ordinances and to provide for enforcement of its ordinances by code inspectors.
Chapter 162, Florida Statutes, permits designated code inspectors to request hearings and ensure code compliance according to that chapter.
Chapter 705, Florida Statutes, authorizes counties to designate employees with authority to enforce codes or ordinances to administer the provisions of said Chapter.
In Pinellas County, FL, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB) issues citations for contracting violations according to Chapter 75-489 Laws of Florida, as amended. Historically, the PCCLB issued citations through its employees.
Beginning in late 2019, PCCLB supported designating certain code enforcement officers and employees to issue citations for contracting violations.
Resolution in Pinellas County for Unlicensed Contracting Citations
In RESOLUTION NO. 19-2067A, the Board of County Commissions of Pinellas County, FL, passed a resolution that allowed specific agents or employees to act on behalf of the County and the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.
Those individuals have the authority to issue citations for violations of:
- Pinellas County ordinances under the provisions of chapter 75-489 Laws of Florida; and
- Pinellas County ordinances under the provisions of Section 125.69, Florida Statutes.
For the construction licensing department, the special authority is given to the Manager of the Construction Licensing Board and Contractors Certification Field Investigator and code inspectors as defined in Section 162.04, Florida Statutes.
Authority is also given to code inspectors and code enforcement officers under Chapter 705, Florida Statutes.
Pinellas County Code Section 22-14
Section 22-14 of the Pinellas County Code lists the following prohibited acts related to unlicensed contracting:
It shall be a violation of this article for any person or entity to:
- Engage in the business of contracting in the construction trades regulated pursuant to F.S. ch. 489, pts. I and II (F.S. §§ 489.101 et seq. and 489.501 et seq.); Laws of Fla. ch. 75-489, as amended by Laws of Fla. chs. 78-594, 81-466, 85-490, 86-444, 89-504, 93-287, 2002-350, and 2003-319 (compiled in ch. 26, art. III, div. 2 of this Code) and as may be amended by special act hereafter; and any rules and regulations promulgated under F.S. ch. 489 and under Laws of Fla. ch. 75-489, as amended, without being in compliance with all of said statutes, said Laws of Florida, and any rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.
- Intentionally furnish any materially false, misleading, or misrepresentative information on an application for permit or license.
- Hold oneself out as being certified pursuant to said statute or said Laws of Florida when not so certified.
- Hold oneself out as being licensed or registered pursuant to said statute or said Laws of Florida when not so licensed or registered.
- Engage in any activity requiring a permit without having obtained the appropriate permits under the applicable edition or version of the Florida Building Code, the Standard for the Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases (NFPA 58), the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 101, or any other applicable construction-related code.
- To advertise to the public in any publication, transmission, business card, pamphlet, telephone directory, or otherwise that he is a contractor, is qualified to engage in business as a contractor, or that he will perform work in a trade regulated by said statute or said Laws of Florida without being duly qualified to so act.
- Submit an advertisement to any publisher for placement in any publication which is primarily circulated, displayed, distributed or marketed within the county, which advertisement identifies a contractor offering services regulated by said statute or said Laws of Florida as they may be amended from time to time, unless the advertisement included the name of the contractor or business and the certification number issued by the state or by the county to that contractor, pursuant to section 26-81 as it has been or may be amended.
- Subcontract any work to any person, firm or business organization not holding an active certificate of competency for work involved in the subcontract.
(Ord. No. 98-9, § 1, 1-6-98; Laws of Fla. Ch. 2002-350, § 1; Ord. No. 03-98, § 2, 12-2-03; Ord. No. 10-68, § 2, 12-14-10)
Description of PCCLB Contractor Classifications
Chapter 489.105, Florida Statutes, defines “contractor” and “contracting” broadly.
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board has created a description of PCCLB contractor classifications, including:
- SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- GENERAL CONTRACTOR
- BUILDING CONTRACTOR
- RESIDENTIAL CONTRACTOR
- PLUMBING CONTRACTOR
- MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR
- AIR-CONDITIONING CONTRACTOR
- CLASS A
- CLASS B
- CLASS C
- SHEET METAL CONTRACTOR
- ROOFING CONTRACTOR
- COMMERCIAL SWIMMING POOL/SPA CONTRACTOR
- RESIDENTIAL POOL/SPA CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL/SPA SERVICING CONTRACTOR
- UNDERGROUND UTILITY CONTRACTOR
- SOLAR CONTRACTOR
- POLLUTANT STORAGE SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR
- SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR
- ALARM SYSTEM CONTRACTOR
- CERTIFIED ALARM SYSTEM CONTRACTOR
- AWNING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- CABINET CONTRACTOR
- CARPENTRY SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- COMMUNICATION SYSTEM SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- DEMOLITION SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- DRYWALL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- FINISH CARPENTRY CONTRACTOR
- FLATWORK CONCRETE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- GARAGE DOOR SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- GLASS AND GLAZING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- IRRIGATION SYSTEMS SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- LOW VOLTAGE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- MARINE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PAINTING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PAINTING LIMITED SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PAVING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PILE DRIVING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PLASTER, STUCCO AND LATH SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- PRESTRESSED PRECAST CONCRETE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- REINFORCING STEEL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SIGN –
- Sign – NON-ELECTRICAL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- Sign – ELECTRICAL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SHUTTER/OPENING PROTECTIVES SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SPECIALTY STRUCTURE CONTRACTORS
- STRUCTURAL MASONRY SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- STRUCTURAL STEEL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL CONTRACTORS
- SWIMMING POOL LAYOUT SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL STRUCTURAL SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL EXCAVATION SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL TRIM SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL DECKING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL PIPING SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- SWIMMING POOL FINISHES SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- TILE AND MARBLE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
- VENEER SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR
PCCLB List of Licensed Contractors – Homeowners in Pinellas County can search for licensed contractors or report unlicensed construction activity by visiting the PCCLB website. Citizens can also report violations of unlicensed contracting by contacting the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 582-6200.
Crimes for Workers’ Compensation Fraud – For an employer or sole-proprietor engaged in the construction industry, the worker must comply with the workers’ compensation relations by having a valid workers’ compensation policy or lawfully issued exemption as required by Florida Statute Section 440.38.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients in Clearwater, FL, and throughout Pinellas County, for a wide variety of unlicensed contracting crimes, including:
- Engaging in the business or acting n the capacity of a contractor by engaging specialty contracting, such as installing tile or marble, without being duly registered or certified by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board and the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, contrary to Chapter 489.127(1)(f), Florida Statutes, and Chapter 75-489 Laws of Florida.
- Engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of a plumbing contractor without being duly registered or certified by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board and the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, contrary to Chapter 489.127(1)(f) and Chapter 489.15(3)(m).
Our criminal defense attorneys also fight charges for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance to employees.
Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case.
This article was last updated on April 20, 2023.