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Can you be arrested for contracting without a license?

If you were to drive around any neighborhood here in Orlando, chances are very good that you would see a seemingly endless assortment of pickups, vans and/or trucks parked in front of homes, a sure sign of some manner of home improvement project taking place.

While many of these home improvement projects are generally small in scale, others are relatively large undertakings. Indeed, those who undertake any projects that fall within this latter category will want to ensure that they are not undertaking any sort of work requiring a contractor's license given that the state of Florida actually treats unlicensed contracting as a criminal offense.  

How exactly does state law define a contractor?

In general, state law views a contractor as anyone who builds, demolishes, subtracts from or adds to any structure or building in exchange for compensation (goods, services, cash, etc.).  

Contractors must either be certified or registered. In the former, the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation issues a certificate of competency that allows a person "to contract in any jurisdiction in the state without being required to fulfill the competency requirements of that jurisdiction." In the latter, the person has demonstrated they meet the competency requirements of a particular jurisdiction and are issued a registration enabling them to contract there.   

How exactly does state law define the crime of unlicensed contracting?

State law actually sets forth nine distinct ways in which a person can commit the crime of unlicensed contracting. While a complete breakdown is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, some of the more notable ways in which a person can run afoul of the law include:

  • Falsely impersonating a registrant or certificate holder
  • Using or attempting to use a registration or certificate that has been revoked or suspended
  • Engaging in the activities of a contractor or advertising such services without being either properly registered or certified.   

We will continue this discussion in our next post, exploring what types of projects do and don't require a contractor's license, and the possible penalties for a conviction on charges of unlicensed contracting.

If you are facing any sort of fraud or theft-related charges, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible so that they can get to work protecting your rights and your reputation. 

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