Unlicensed Contracting FAQ | Top Rated Defense Attorneys in Clearwater, FL

If you or someone you know have been arrested and are now facing criminal charges or are being investigated for unlicensed contracting, you likely have questions regarding your case.

Our team has handled thousands of unlicensed contracting cases, and our goal is to provide you with some of the answers and insight you're seeking. We've compiled some of the most common questions our attorneys get asked and will answer them below.

What is an unlicensed contractor?

An individual who performs work that requires a license without a valid license is an unlicensed contractor.  The crime of unlicensed contracting is generally a misdemeanor depending on whether the individual has been previously convicted of unlicensed contracting.  Additionally, the unlicensed contracting law covers a broad range of conduct related to the home improvement industry in Florida, some of which are considered felonies.

What is the penalty for unlicensed contracting in Florida?

A first time unlicensed contracting charge is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable of up to one year in jail, 12 months' probation and a $1000 fine.  However, those penalties are enhanced should an individual be convicted more than once. 

What is the risk of using an unlicensed contractor?

Unlicensed contractors may not have general liability insurance and may not be bonded.  Using an unlicensed contractor can expose a homeowner to financial liability if the unlicensed contractor is not insured.  Licensed contractors are usually bonded where unlicensed contractors are not.  If a contractor is bonded, that means that they are committed to standing by the work performed and ensures that the work will be completed, and the customer will get what they pay for.  It is a safety net for the customer and insured by a third party. 

Often times, homeowners try to take shortcuts in their home improvements and hire unlicensed contractors because the work is cheaper.  These are the types of individuals that will turn around and report you knowing you aren't insured, leading to administrative and criminal legal problems.

What is an unlicensed contracting sting?

More and more, we are hearing about law enforcement agencies using various techniques to arrest unlicensed contractors.  The agency may post work on Craigslist or a similar platform waiting on someone to respond.  If you respond to an ad such as this and represent that you are licensed or perform work that requires a license, you may be arrested.

What is the defense for unlicensed contracting?

The defenses are numerous and depend on the specific facts of the case.  There may be a factual dispute arising out of the representations that were made.  The prosecutor may have difficulty proving the absence of a license. Finally, the work performed may not have required a license.

What are some examples of work you can do without a license in Florida?
  • Handyman work such as light carpentry, cabinet installation, and general painting
  • Basic yardwork
  • Small appliance repair
  • Window repair

You must have a license to do plumbing and electrical work in the state of Florida.

What happens if I do work with an unlicensed contractor without my knowledge?

Generally, the responsibility falls on the homeowner to do his or her due diligence before hiring a contractor. 

If you're looking for representation for your unlicensed contracting case, please contact our office for a free case evaluation where we can discuss the facts of your case and any additional questions you may have. Call us today!

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Powers Sellers & Finkelstein is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense law issues in Florida. We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.