Unlicensed Contractor · Unlicensed Specialty Contractors

Contracting Without a License in Pinellas County, Florida

Chapter 489 of the Florida Statutes requires that persons who engage in the business of contracting be licensed, registered or certified for certain types of construction work. These include:

  • Contractor
  • General Contractor
  • Building Contractor
  • Residential Contractor
  • Sheet Metal Contractor
  • Roofing Contractor
  • Class A Air Conditioning Contractor
  • Class B Air Conditioning Contractor
  • Class C Air Conditioning Contractor
  • Mechanical Contractor
  • Commercial Pool / Spa Contractor
  • Residential Pool / Spa Contractor
  • Swimming Pool / Spa Servicing Contractor
  • Plumbing Contractor
  • Underground Utility and Excavation Contractor
  • Solar Contractor
  • Pollutant Storage Systems Contractor
  • Specialty Contractor (Electrical Contractor; Alarm System Contractor; Certified Alarm System Contractor)

The Pinellas County Construction and Licensing Board

The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board was created in 1973. The establishment of this Board resulted from a Special Act of the Legislature to regulate the Pinellas County construction industry. The PCCLB provides countywide certification and registration of contractors and countywide certification of journeyman. These include such additional Specialty Contracting designations as:

  • Awning Specialty Contractor
  • Cabinet Contractor
  • Carpentry Specialty Contractor
  • Communication System Specialty Contractor
  • Demolition Specialty Contractor
  • Electrical Signs Specialty Contractor
  • Fence Erections Specialty Contractor
  • Finish Carpentry Contractor
  • Flatwork Concrete Specialty Contractor
  • Garage Door Specialty Contractor
  • Glass and Glazing Specialty Contractor
  • Gypsum Drywall Specialty Contractor
  • Irrigation Systems Specialty Contractor
  • Low Voltage Specialty Contractor
  • Marine Specialty Contractor
  • Natural Gas Specialty Contractor
  • Painting Specialty Contractor
  • Painting Limited Specialty Contractor
  • Paving Specialty Contractor
  • Pile Driving Specialty Contractor
  • Plaster, Stucco and Lath Specialty Contractor
  • Prestressed Precast Concrete Specialty Contractor
  • Reinforcing Steel Specialty Contractor
  • Shutter / Opening Protectives Specialty Contractor
  • Sign Specialty Contractor, Non Electrical
  • Specialty Structure Contractors (Originally Named Aluminum Contractor)
  • Structural Masonry Specialty Contractor
  • Structural Steel Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Layout Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Structural Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Excavation Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Trim Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Decking Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Piping Specialty Contractor
  • Swimming Pool Finishes Specialty Contractor
  • Tile and Marble Specialty Contractor
  • Veneer Specialty Contractor

 Click Here for a full detailed definition / description of each contractor classification

Undercover Sting Operations Catch Unlicensed Contractors

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck Florida and resulted in billions of dollars of damage and devastation. A large number of contractors were needed to reconstruct destroyed houses and buildings. Numerous property owners unknowingly employed unlicensed contractors to complete the repairs. However, many of these owners later complained that these workers implemented poor business practices and built substandard structures.

In response to the profuse complaints, the State took action to ensure compliance with contracting regulations by encouraging the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) to be more aggressive in its efforts in catching unlicensed contractors. Therefore, the DBPR uses undercover agents to impersonate property owners who request bids from unlicensed contractors. After providing a bid and agreeing to do the work, the contractor can be arrested and prosecuted under Florida Statute Chapter 489, which regulates Construction Contracting.

The Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office Consumer Fraud Division

Our local State Attorney’s Office maintains a special prosecution unit designed to investigate and bring criminal charges for consumer fraud. It is this specialized division that pursues prosecutions for unlicensed contracting offenses. Pinellas County local government actively encourages homeowners and consumers to make complaints against unlicensed contractors, regardless of the quality of the work. For example, see “Home Improvement Solicitation Tips” and “Consumer Advice for Avoiding Unlicensed Contractors.”

Attorneys Marc Pelletier and Tim Sullivan are former state prosecutors with offices in both St. Petersburg and Clearwater. These lawyers are well acquainted with the operation of the Consumer Fraud Division of the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office. In their defense of persons charged with unlicensed contracting, they routinely interact with the prosecutors assigned to this special division.

Penalties for Contracting Without a License

Most violations of unlicensed contracting fall under the classification of first degree misdemeanor offenses. These are punishable up to one year in the Pinellas County Jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Learn more about the ramifications of being charged with a misdemeanor offense.

However, some offenders can be charged with a third degree felony with penalties that carry up to five years incarceration in state prison and a $5,000.00 fine. These felony offenses include:

  • A second time contracting without a license offense;
  • Violations of the unlicensed contracting laws that occur during a state of emergency;
  • Some violations that involve pollutant storage systems contracting.

 Watch our video about how we can help you avoid the consequences of a misdemeanor charge.

We Are St. Petersburg / Clearwater Lawyers Who Can Help

We can carefully examine the facts and circumstances of your case to determine if a contracting license was legally required for the type of work you actually performed.

We can determine if your work falls under one of the exemptions that does not require licensure. For example, Florida Statute Section 489.103 provides a number of situations in which contractors are exempt from complying with the regulations set forth in Chapter 489. Some of these exceptions include:

  • Owners of property when acting as their own contractor and providing direct, onsite supervision themselves of all work not performed by licensed contractors;
  • Contractors in work on bridges, roads, streets, highways, or railroads, and services incidental thereto;
  • An authorized employee of the United States, this state, or any municipality, county, irrigation district, reclamation district, or any other municipal or political subdivision;
  • Any contractor working or operating a casual, minor, or inconsequential nature in which the aggregate contract price for labor, materials, and all other items is less than $1,000.

Click Here to read eighteen additional statutory exceptions to the contracting license law.

In addition to examining the specific nature of the work performed, we can also seek to minimize the consequences and penalties associated with your charge:

  • We can provide facts and “mitigating” evidence to cast your case in a more positive light to the Pinellas County Court judge assigned to your case.
  • We can negotiate with the prosecutor and the judge in an effort to secure a “withhold of adjudication.” Resolving your case with a withhold of adjudication could be highly beneficial since you could thereafter truthfully state that you were not convicted of the unlicensed contracting offense. Learn more about Avoiding Conviction.
  • At the conclusion of your case, we can petition the Circuit Court to seal or expunge all of the records related to your arrest. Learn more about the sealing or expungement of your criminal record.

Call us to schedule a free consultation at (727) 578-0303.

We are St. Petersburg / Clearwater criminal defense attorneys experienced in helping persons charged with contracting without a license offenses. We invite you to meet with us so that we can discuss the individual facts and circumstances of your case. Together, we can tailor a strategy that is best focused on achieving the most desirable outcome.

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