Florida offers several advantages for entrepreneurs, including pro-business policies and relatively low taxes. However, state law requires business owners to meet specific requirements to operate, including obtaining all applicable licenses and permits.
Is it possible to run a business without a license in Florida? Read on to find out.
Can You Run a Business Without a License in Florida? – The Verdict
Entrepreneurs cannot run a business in Florida without obtaining the required licenses and permits. It is almost impossible not to file for some type of license in Florida, as most companies are exposed to licensing requirements at the city, county, state, and federal levels. Examples include:
- General business licenses
- Seller’s permit or sales tax license
- Licenses for regulated professions (e.g., engineers, doctors, nurses, etc.)
- Licenses for regulated products and activities (e.g., alcoholic beverages and tobacco)
- Federal licenses
What Happens If an Unlicensed Company Continues to Operate in Florida?
The legal consequences for an unlicensed business depend on which license the company failed to obtain and whether someone else was injured while the company was running unlicensed.
For example, many contractors in the construction segment often operate without the required licenses.
Independent contractors or companies involved in unlicensed contracting are usually charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties include up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation, plus a thousand-dollar fine.
The situation can get worse if the unlicensed company has been charged for contracting without a license before. In such cases, possible penalties include up to five years in jail or a five-year probation period, plus a hefty fine of $5,000.
Florida law also has strict provisions for unlicensed contractors operating during a “State of Emergency” declared through an executive order.
In addition to jail sentences and fines, unlicensed contractors may be subject to restitution if someone was injured by sub-standard work or used sub-standard materials used by the defendant.
In such cases, the court may fix an amount for reparation and order the defendant to restitute the injured party.
My Company was Charged for Operating Without a Florida License – What Should I Do?
Cases involving unlicensed companies tend to be complex, depending on which type of licensing requirement the defendant failed to meet. In such cases, the guidance of a seasoned Florida attorney is fundamental.
At first glance, an attorney will identify possible defenses and, if applicable, how to minimize potential penalties.
Many unlicensed business owners jeopardize their chances of defense by pleading to the charges. Pleading to the charges is the worst possible choice, as the business owner will:
- Be exposed to permanent criminal records
- Hinder the chances of obtaining proper licensing in the future, and
- Be financially liable due to potential court-ordered restitution awards
Failing to pay the amount rewarded to the injured party may lead to serious legal consequences.
The best approach is to avoid unnecessary headaches and apply for all the applicable licenses as soon as possible. If the charges were already filed against you, an attorney is crucial to minimize the potential damage.
Waste no Time with Uncertainty – Ensure Full Legal Compliance Assisted by Jurado & Associates, P.A.
An expert licensing attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A. is willing to assess your case and find a tailored solution. Call us today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.