Florida Pest Control Services/Exterminators License Defense Attorney

Have you been alerted of an Administrative Complaint filed against your Florida pest control license? Are you worried about the effect that the complaint will have on your professional reputation and future career? A complaint filed against a licensed pest control technician, exterminator, or any licensed Florida professional can have damaging consequences, including substantial fines, a restriction on services provided, damage to your reputation, and sometimes a rescinded license.

Whether you believe the complaint against your license to be unfounded, it’s essential to your career that you resolve it without delay. The first chance after you receive word of an Administrative Complaint against you, schedule a meeting with a trusted professional license attorney to help protect your future livelihood as a licensed Florida pest control technician.

What Does an Exterminator or Pest Control Technician Do?

The sunny weather in Florida makes the environment prime to attract all types of bees, bugs, and pests. Individuals who are licensed for pest control services and exterminations can have rewarding careers that are always in demand in the Sunshine State.

They are responsible for removing unwanted bugs and creatures from buildings, homes, lawns, and surrounding areas. Some of the pests that exterminators eliminate most in Florida include:

  • Roaches
  • Bedbugs
  • Bees
  • Rats
  • Ants
  • Termites

Pest control technicians conduct inspections to locate an infestation and design strategies to remove or kill the pests effectively. They might use pesticides, traps, or power spraying-equipped trucks to effectively treat infestations, depending on the outbreak’s scale and the type of pest.

According to Florida Statute 482.021 (15), integrated pest management is defined as:

“…the selection, integration, and implementation of multiple pest control techniques based on predictable economic, ecological, and sociological consequences, making maximum use of naturally occurring pest controls, such as weather, disease agents, and parasitoids, using various biological, physical, chemical, and habitat modification methods of control, and using artificial controls… to keep particular pests from surpassing intolerable population levels…”

Why Is It Important for Pest Control Technicians to be Licensed in Florida?

A valid license is required to perform any services related to pest control, fumigation, or extermination in Florida. To become licensed, pest control inspectors must have the necessary education in entomology, botany, agronomy, or horticulture, along with documented experience as a service employee for a licensed pet control technician. Applicants must have at least three years of experience, with at least one year working in Florida. Such a requirement is compulsory and necessary to protect the Florida public.

Who Licenses Pest Control Technicians and Exterminators in Florida?

In Florida, pest control technicians must receive a Certified Pest Control Business Operator License through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The FDACS must verify that individuals pass the written examinations and have the required education or the necessary experience working for a licensee who performs extermination and pest control services in Florida.

Could Complaints Against Pest Control Technicians and Exterminators Result in Disciplinary Action?

Licensed pest control technicians in Florida may face disciplinary action from complaints related to negligible or misleading exterminations or pest control services. According to Florida Statute 482.161, grounds for discipline against a licensed Florida pest control technician include:

  • Habitual intemperance or addiction to narcotics
  • Being convicted of a crime which relates to their profession
  • Making false claims concerning pest control
  • Misrepresenting the effects of materials or methods used in pest control services
  • Failing to give the Department accurate information upon request regarding methods or materials used
  • Fraudulent or misleading advertising related to pest control services
  • Performing extermination or pest control services without a valid license

Failing to identify an infestation or using the wrong pesticide chemicals can cause life-threatening illnesses to anyone living within the home or building. Licensed pest control technicians must be thorough in their assessments and fumigation methods to treat an infestation effectively.

How Would Someone File a Complaint Against a Licensed Pest Control Technician in Florida?

Anyone who wants to file an Administrative Complaint against a licensed Florida pest control technician or exterminator would do so by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and completing a Uniform Complaint Form. FDACS’s online service allows the public to confirm that a professional’s license is valid and file complaints.

How Does the Complaint Process Operate in Florida?

After the FDACS is notified of a complaint against a licensed pest control technician or exterminator, the claim is assessed by an investigator who will further analyze your case. The investigation involves collecting information that will determine whether the complaint has adequate legal grounds to proceed.

Information collected during an FDACS investigation typically includes:

  • Interviews with complainants
  • Interviews with the subject of the complaint
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering detailed evidence
  • Preparing reports

As a licensed Florida pest control technician, you are strongly advised that you secure the services of a skilled and qualified professional license attorney as soon as possible to help you create a reply to the investigation. An experienced attorney can often close the investigation before it moves forward and becomes available to the public. At this point, you have the best chance of saving your career and reputation from damage.

If the investigation secures 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 of the Pest Control Enforcement Advisory Council and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They review the details and evidence associated with the claim.

During this process, it is of the utmost importance that you have your defense lawyer, and you do not attempt to handle the situation alone.

The Probable Cause Panel Assess the Complaint

Suppose the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) investigation discovers sufficient information to push the Administrative Complaint forward. In that case, it will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel, which considers evidence to support the complaint along with rules of regulations that were violated.

During this process, it is essential that you seek advice from an experienced license defense attorney, and you do not try to resolve it on your own.

The panel review may lead to three possible results:

  • Finding no probable cause: a dismissal of the case
  • Issuing a letter of guidance: a determination that a minor violation did occur
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint: the most severe of outcomes

A determination of “no probable cause” means there was insufficient evidence to confirm that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action but can still harm your professional reputation. If a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you, the Administrative Complaint process proceeds to the next step.

What’s the Process of an Administrative Complaint?

An Administrative Complaint defines the evidence and information found against you during the investigation and the specific laws or regulations you’re accused of violating. At this time, the complaint becomes public record. Even if the claim is thrown out, your reputation as a qualified pest control technician or exterminator could be damaged. After consulting with your lawyer, you can decide whether you want to attend an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to continue with an Informal Hearing, you do not intend to argue with any of the allegations against you, nor do you want to reveal any new evidence. Instead, you’re accepting the complaints, and the FDACS will make a definitive decision on penalties that will be imposed against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to debate the charges and evidence found against you during the investigation, you move forward to a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is overseen by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ considers the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the FDACS. The Department then makes a final decision on what disciplinary actions you’ll face.

Remember that you can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your pest control license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney is your most valued ally and a crucial part of your defense team when going through this process – always seek counsel from them before making a final decision.

How Can a Professional License Defense Attorney Assist?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates every case in considerable detail to uncover the facts and determine the best approach to proceed. In general, some complaints against pest control technicians and exterminators can go to criminal court and be criminalized. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney with thorough experience in professional license defense is vital.

Our attorneys can assist you in some of the following ways:

  • Review the complaint against you and build a defense by obtaining evidence, documents, and witnesses that will benefit you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you defend against the claims
  • Defend against possible criminal charges that may evolve from the complaint
  • Determine the motive or bias behind the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond appropriately to the Probable Cause Investigation by procuring 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 penalties the Department may want to take
  • Introduce evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses at a Formal Review Hearing
  • Help dispute the findings at an Informal Review Hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Trusted Pest Control & Exterminator Defense Attorneys in Orlando

If you have been alleged of committing an offense where the State of Florida may rescind or suspend your professional license or business activities, contact The Umansky Law Firm to defend you. As skilled trial attorneys, we can help you build a robust defense against the allegations you face, which may include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or claim you face. Because we have a criminal defense background that involves government agencies, fraud, and other crimes, we are prepared to advocate for you in the administrative action and help you avoid license suspension and criminal liability.

Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm include defense lawyers, former prosecutors, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. To speak with an administrative attorney today about your Florida pest control license, complete an online contact form or call at (407) 228-3838.