Florida Building Contractor Defense Attorney

Florida Building Contractor Defense Attorney

Are you a contractor that has been served a citation or Administrative Complaint from DBPR? In Florida, a complaint made against a building contractor or other licensed professional can lead to severe consequences that include fines, a restraint on services provided, and — in the worst case — a suspension or revocation of a professional license.

The loss of a building contractor’s license can effectively take away your ability to earn a living. That’s why any complaint should be taken seriously and responded to in a meaningful way, no matter how insignificant it might seem at first. If you’re a building contractor who is the subject of a formal complaint, you maybe be angry or upset. Just remember it’s essential that you don’t ignore the citation or complaint, but seek legal counsel immediately.

Who is a Building Contractor?

A building contractor is a business owner responsible for supervising the construction of both new and old buildings and structures. A building contractor must manage and organize all facets of a building site. Florida Statute 489.105(b) defines this as:

“A contractor whose services are limited to construction of commercial buildings and single-dwelling or multiple-dwelling residential buildings, which do not exceed three stories in height, and accessory use structures in connection therewith or a contractor whose services are limited to remodeling, repair, or improvement of any size building if the services do not affect the structural members of the building.”

Why is it Important for Building Contractors to Have a Valid License?

For building contractors, having a valid license is paramount to being able to perform their job. A license ensures that a contractor complies with the appropriate standards and regulations. That, in turn, proves that they’re reliable and instills confidence in potential customers who wish to hire them.

At The Umansky Law Firm, we’ve helped many building contractors and professionals fight complaints and the potential loss of their licenses.

If you’ve faced any of the following obstacles, we can help you:

  • You’re a building contractor whose reputation is being called into question.
  • A consumer or competitor made a complaint against you.
  • You are facing a probable cause hearing, administrative hearing, or a board determination.

Complaints against building contractors can jeopardize their license and livelihood. If you’re facing a complaint, do not delay seeking trusted legal defense.

Who Licenses Building Contractors in Florida?

In Florida, licensed building contractors are supervised by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR). The Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) is responsible for issuing licenses to building contractors in Florida. The Board meets regularly to deliberate applications for new licenses and also to review complaints and disciplinary cases.

How Can a Building Contractor Face Disciplinary Actions in Florida?

A customer or competitor can file a Complaint against a building contractor. Reasons for doing so vary. Examples include claims that the contractor:

  • Took a customer’s money but did not finish the paid service
  • Advertised cheap services but then tried to up-sell new systems or repairs
  • Did not obtain the proper permits for the project performed
  • Was negligent in surveying, inspecting, or other building design that resulted in injury or damage

For the complaint to be legally satisfactory, it must include facts that demonstrate and prove a violation has occurred.

What Does the Complainant Fill Out?

If someone wished to file a complaint, they would do so by contacting the DBPR and completing a Uniform Complaint Form. In addition, a subsequent complaint should also be filed with the Florida Attorney General by completing a Uniform Complaint Form.

What are Common Allegations Against Building Contractors?

A building contractor might receive allegations for various reasons. In news reports, the majority of complaints and subsequent legal claims relate to work that was paid for, but never performed.

According to Florida Statutes, there are myriad acts that constitute grounds for which disciplinary actions may be taken against you. They include:

  • Mismanagement of funds
  • Abandonment of job
  • Failure to attain appropriate permits
  • Thievery or fraud
  • Failure to report past criminal history to DBPR
  • Faulty building design
  • Neglectful supervision of construction
  • Neglectful surveying
  • Neglectful inspection
  • Neglectful preparation of building site
  • Design errors or actions claimed to have caused construction defects
  • Carelessness ending in injury or property damage
  • Design flaws and oversights

What is the Complaint Process Like?

When a building contractor receives a complaint, the Construction Industry Licensing Board, an investigator with the DBPR, or a contracted law firm reviews it. The investigation consists of gathering enough information to decide whether the complaint can proceed to the next step.

Information gathered during an investigation often includes:

  • Interviewing complainants
  • Interviewing the subject of the complaint
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering documented evidence
  • Readying reports

As a professional building contractor, it’s highly recommended that you secure a knowledgeable and accomplished contractor defense attorney to help you develop a strong response to the investigation procedure. Often, an experienced attorney can end the investigation process at its earliest stages, preventing you from sustaining further harm to your reputation or business.

The Probable Cause Panel Reviews the Complaint

If the investigation procures enough proof to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will typically involve members on the CILB who review the documents and evidence tied to the complaint.

During this process, it’s vital that you have your defense attorney with you and that you do not attempt to handle the situation alone.

The panel review can result in three possible outcomes:

  • Finding “no probable cause”
  • Issuing a “letter of guidance”
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint

A finding of “no probable cause” is a dismissal of the case, which means there was not enough evidence proving that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action, but it’s issued when the panel finds that a minor violation did occur. The most severe outcome is when a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you.

Process of the Administrative Complaint

An Administrative Complaint against you details the statements and evidence against you reviewed during the investigation, along with the specific laws or rules that you’re charged with violating. After consulting with your attorney, you can choose to attend either an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, that means you do not wish to dispute any of the allegations against you, nor do you intend to bring any new evidence to light. Instead, you’re accepting the complaints, and you’ll face the Board again where they’ll make a final decision on what penalties will be imposed against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to dispute the allegations and facts found against you during the investigation, you proceed with a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ hears the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the Board. The Board then makes a final decision concerning disciplinary actions.

You can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your building contractor’s license is suspended or revoked. Your lawyer is your most valued ally when going through this process – always consult with them before making any decisions.

How Can a Professional License Defense Attorney Help?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates every case in detail to learn the facts and how to proceed. In general, some complaints against building contractors can go to criminal court, and you can face criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal lawyer who handles professional license defense is paramount.

Our lawyers can help you in some of the following ways:

  • Review the complaint against you and develop a defense by securing evidence, documents, and witnesses that help you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you defend against the allegations
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that can arise from the complaint
  • Establish the motive or bias behind the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond to the Probable Cause Investigation by securing documents, witnesses, and other methods to establish there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Help to try and get the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential punishments the Board or Agency may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine State’s witnesses at a formal review hearing
  • Help challenge the findings at an informal review hearing
  • Appeal the hearing.

Trusted Building Contractor Defense Attorneys in Orlando

If you have been accused of committing an act that may prompt the State to take your license or suspend your business activities, call The Umansky Law Firm to defend you.

As experienced trial lawyers, we understand the evidence code and can help prepare a defense against you that may include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or allegation against you. Because we have a criminal defense background that includes construction fraud, and other crimes – we are prepared to defend you in the administrative action and help you avoid not only license suspension but criminal prosecution as well.

The Umansky Law Firm attorneys include former prosecutors and defense lawyers, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. To speak with an administrative lawyer today, complete an online contact form or call at (407) 228-3838.