The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is targeting unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County with continued sting operations.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has been conducting sting operations to catch unlicensed contractors for nearly two years.  Going by the creative names such as “Operation Drop the Hammer” and “Operation Punch List” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office sets up businesses and solicits contractors to bid on work in an effort to determine if they are properly licensed or not.

If the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office determines a contractor does not hold the appropriate license, an arrest is made for Unlicensed Contracting – Specialty, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year in County Jail and a $1000.00 fine.  Additionally, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office oftentimes will add a charge of Failure to Secure Workers Compensation Coverage, a third-degree felony punishable by up to three-years in State prison and a $5000.00 fine.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has arrested over 150 individuals in such stings.

Many individuals charged with such crimes are unaware that they even require a Specialty Contracting License.  For example, the State of Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation does not require a license for tile installation, however, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board does require such a license.

Similarly, an individual may believe that they are not required to carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage if they are a sole proprietorship.   While potentially technically correct, the individual is still required to formally apply for and receive an exemption from the Florida Department of Financial Services to be exempt from Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law.

Previous to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office making this a priority, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board regulated contractors and subjected them to civil fines if they were operating without the proper licenses.  Because of internal issues widely reported in the media with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and perceived lack of enforcement on their part, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office began sting operations targeting unlicensed contractors.

If you are arrested in Pinellas County or anywhere in the Tampa Bay Area for Unlicensed Specialty Contracting or Failure to Secure Workers Compensation Coverage, call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736, Option 1 for New Clients for an immediate consultation on your defense case strategy.