Unlicensed Contracting A Serious Crime In Seminole
Pinellas County suffered relatively mild impacts due to Hurricane Ian, but our neighbors to the south fared far worse. Many homes and commercial properties were either destroyed or damaged due to large amounts of flooding and debris in the aftermath. As contractors descend on the area, our Seminole criminal attorney explains how those without a valid Florida contractor’s license, or anyone looking to capitalize on the situation, could find themselves facing serious criminal charges.
Scams Unfortunately Common In The Aftermath of Major Storms
Pinellas County has seen more than its fair share of damage due to tropical storms, hurricanes, and other adverse weather events. While the community tends to pull together in the aftermath and there are numerous offers of actual help, an event such as Hurricane Ian typically opens the door to different types of scams.
Weather.com is warning residents along the Treasure Coast to be wary of people and businesses looking to take advantage of the situation. Common post-hurricane scams include:
- Identity theft and fraud;
- Fake fundraising;
- Insurance scams;
- Problems with unlicensed contractors.
Unlicensed contracting is one of the biggest problems in the aftermath of a storm. To protect local residents, the authorities take a hard stance against people engaging in these activities. Even if your intent is simply to offer your services and offset expenses incurred during the process, performing any work without a valid Florida contractor’s license could result in serious criminal charges.
Penalties For Unlicensed Contracting In Florida
Unlicensed contracting in Florida is a serious crime. As it generally targets people in vulnerable situations, such as those dealing with losses due to hurricanes, floods, fires, or other adverse events, the authorities are aggressive in apprehending offenders. Under the Florida Statutes, you could be charged with unlicensed contracting for any of the following:
- Falsely claiming to be a licensed business or licensed independent contractor;
- Presenting a copy of a license, certificate, or any other type of credential not authorized by the state of Florida;
- Forging documents or the signatures of official representatives;
- Using or attempting to use a license that was suspected or is otherwise no longer valid;
- Commencing or performing work that requires a building permit or is otherwise unauthorized by the local town or municipality.
Criminal penalties for unlicensed contracting have the potential to be severe. Minor offenses may be charged as a misdemeanor, resulting in a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. More serious offenses could result in felony charges, which carry a $5,000 fine and up to a five-year prison sentence. This is in addition to having to pay restitution to victims.
Our Pinellas County Criminal Attorney Protects You Against Unlicensed Contracting Charges
Being accused of unlicensed contracting or any type of fraudulent activity in the aftermath of a natural disaster is a serious matter. To protect yourself against potentially harsh penalties, get the strong legal defense you need from the Reep Law Firm. Call or contact our Seminole criminal attorney online today and request a consultation.