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Operating a Business Without a License in Miami

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Florida, like all other states, regulates professions and occupations. Many professions and occupations require licenses in order to operate legally. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates, monitors, and enforces the law related to unlicensed commercial activity. More than 20 professions are regulated by DBPR, including athletic and talent agents, architects, engineers and interior designers, auctioneers, barbers and cosmetologists, the construction industry, electricians, farm labor, home inspectors, landscapers, harbor pilots, plumbers, and veterinarians.

Florida prohibits a person from operating a business without a license under the Florida Statutes, Title XXXII, Chapter 489, § 489.127. In 2010, Miami led Florida in citations issued for contracting without a license resulting from DBPR sweeps. Operating a business without being licensed by the state is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

If you were arrested for a violation under F.S. § 489.127 for operating a business without a license, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. A conviction for operating a business without a license could impose jail time, probation, civil fines, and restitution. However, an arrest does not necessarily mean a conviction is inevitable. Hubbs Law Firm handles any violation of F.S. § 489.127 for operating a business without a license and provides legal advice to the residents of Miami-Dade County, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Homestead, Kendall, South Miami, and North Miami.

Attorney E.J. Hubbs is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar for his experience in criminal procedure combined with his knowledge in conducting jury trials. His experience in this area of the law benefits clients directly by allowing him to evaluate cases in a thorough manner.

At Hubbs Law Firm, the first consultation is always free and without obligation. Call us today at (305) 570-4802 to make an appointment.

Operating a Business without a License in Miami, FL

Under the Florida Statutes, § 489.127, every person engaged in a business operation is prohibited from:

  • Falsely holding himself or herself as a business organization without a license
  • Falsely impersonating a certificate holder or registrant
  • Falsely presenting the certificate or registration of another
  • Knowingly giving false or forged evidence to a board member
  • Using or attempting to use a certificate or registration that has been suspended or revoked
  • Engaging in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or advertise himself or herself as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified
  • Operating a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent
  • Commencing or performing work without a building permit when one is required, or
  • Willfully or deliberately, disregarding or violating any municipal or county ordinance relating to uncertified or unregistered contractors

Penalties for Operating a Business without a License in Miami, FL

A conviction for operating a business without a license in Florida is a first-degree misdemeanor, with maximum penalties of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The minimum penalties involve probation, fines, restitution, and potential of being prohibited from performing the type of work alleged in the underlying charge. A second conviction for operating a business without a license in Florida is more serious. A second conviction is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 fine.

The minimum penalties involve probation, fines, restitution, and again, the potential of being prohibited from performing the type of work alleged in the underlying charge. Operating a business without a license may also lead to civil or administrative fines from the DBPR and a civil lawsuit from injured third parties. As with any other criminal conviction in Florida, a conviction for operating a business without a license may result in a defendant being placed in removal proceedings from the United States if the defendant is not a U.S. citizen.

Defenses for Operating a Business without a License

To prove the crime of operating a business without a license in Florida, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • A person engaged, advertised, or acted in the capacity of a contractor, and
  • The person was not licensed by the state of Florida

The first element of the crime of operating a business without a license commonly presents a factual defense. The state must prove that a person engaged, advertised, or acted in the capacity of a contractor. For example, if you were allegedly acting as an electrician, a barber, or a veterinarian, the prosecutor would need to prove that you were engaging in that activity or at least advertising that you conduct that activity. If the state fails to present sufficient factual evidence, then you would have a valid defense and be acquitted of the charge.

The second element requires the state to prove that you required a license issued by the state of Florida to conduct the underlying activity and failed to obtain that license. Anyone accused of this crime should check to verify that a license was required.

Many professions do not require licenses. Sometimes, police officers and prosecutors make mistakes in charging a crime. In addition, prosecutors are not always able to prove that a person was not licensed in the activity; while it may seem simple to prove, prosecutors must strictly follow the rules of evidence to prove this element, and sometimes they make mistakes. A criminal defense attorney can often be a difference-maker as a case winds through the courts.

Find an Attorney for Operating a Business Without a License

If you were arrested for operating a business without a license in Miami, FL, give our office a call to discuss your case with our team. Hubbs Law Firm offers free consultations. During your free consultation, our attorneys can discuss the facts of your case, the maximum and minimum penalties you may face, and any potential defenses you may have to the alleged crime. Certain individuals may be eligible for pretrial diversion and pretrial intervention programs; if all conditions are met, charges may be dismissed without litigation. Other individuals will need advice on how to best prepare their case for trial.

Call Hubbs Law Firm today at (305) 570-4802 today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your charge of operating a business without a license.

Additional Resources

Attorneys E.J. & Erika Hubbs As professional defense attorneys, we take every case personally give every client the deliberate care it deserves. Our clients become part of our family and we fight relentlessly for their rights. Read more about us to find out how we can help you. 

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