Can You Get Criminal Penalties For Working As An Unlicensed Contractor?
Gig work is an important part of the income of most households in Florida; enterprising people use their talents to bring in enough money to cover the current round of bills, since salaried jobs are in short supply, and most of the ones that are available do not pay enough to put employees in a situation where they are not living paycheck to paycheck. If you have home repair skills, then your services are always in demand, especially now that another hurricane has struck Florida, leaving thousands, if not millions of houses in need of repair. Is it possible to get in legal trouble just for repairing houses? It is, and the laws that address home repairs and building contractors are so confusing that, despite their best intentions, many building contractors break the law every year without even knowing it, even though only a fraction of those face criminal penalties. If you are being accused of a crime even though you were just doing your job repairing or renovating houses, contact a West Palm Beach unlicensed contracting lawyer.
DIY Home Repairs Are Not a Crime
According to Florida law, unlicensed contracting is a misdemeanor; the maximum sentence is a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. All building contractors who construct, repair, or renovate residential or commercial buildings in Florida must have a valid license to do so. Homeowners who hire contractors should ask to see proof of the contractor’s license before paying the contractor or allowing him or her to work on the house. Meanwhile, there are no laws against do-it-yourself home improvement projects or helping a friend with DIY home repairs.
Criminal charges for unlicensed contracting usually occur when contractors mislead clients into believing that they have valid licenses. Therefore, it is possible to be charged with fraud and with unlicensed contracting in relation to the same incident or project.
Defenses to Charges of Unlicensed Contracting
Because of legal ambiguities, some defendants who face charges for unlicensed contracting were unaware that they were doing anything illegal. Many of these ambiguities have to do with which licenses are required for which jobs, as well as with the extent to which a company’s license covers employees who work for the company. In other words, you might have honestly assumed that, because your employer had a license for the kind of contracting work you were doing, you did not need a license of your own. You might also argue that the client knew that you did not have a license but chose to hire you anyway at their own risk. With any criminal charge, you are innocent until proven guilty, and there is more room to argue that you did not knowingly break the law with unlicensed contracting cases than with most other criminal cases.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County. Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.