In Florida, unlicensed contracting is typically charged as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to one year in jail, twelve months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine. However, these penalties are usually for first time offenders. The penalties can be much more severe if the accused has been previously convicted of contracting without a license. In that case, the offender may be charged with a third degree felony, which can accrue up to five years in prison, five years of probation, or a $5,000 fine.
In addition to potential fines and jail time, someone convicted of or who pleads to a charge of contracting without a license will usually be subjected to a court-ordered restitution. This can occur if the alleged victim claims that the unlicensed defendant performed sub-standard work or used sub-standard materials and caused a loss.
If it can be proven that a connection is shown between the defendant’s work and the alleged loss, than the defendant can be ordered to compensate the alleged victim through a restitution award. Typically, restitution awards can be tens of thousands of dollars. If the restitution is not paid, or is late in payment it could result in the defendant being held in contempt of court.
What are The Possible Defenses To Contest A Charge Of Unlicensed Contracting In Florida?
1. Evidentiary And Factual Defenses
A major problem for the prosecution is evidence and factual in nature. If the defendant is charged with falsely claiming they are a license holder or registrant, there will typically be a factual dispute to see what was actually shown to the alleged victim.
If the defendant allegedly engaged in contracting or acted as a contractor, than the issue is now if the defendant actually performed any contracting duties. If it can be proved that the alleged contracting was more limited in scope, or if a factual dispute can be raised on the issue, this can provide a complete defense to the charge.
2. Technical Defenses
The second problem for the prosecution is technical in nature. Misdemeanor prosecutors may not be able to properly prove that an accused was “unlicensed” or “unregistered.”
The Importance Of An Attorney
In unlicensed contracting cases, a Orlando contractor lawyer is a critical asset. In some cases, many defendants try to avoid the cost of hiring an attorney by pleading to the charge, which can lead to permanent criminal records and the jeopardization of chances to obtain a license in the future, as well as incurring financial responsibility for unjustified restitution awards.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.