Undercover sting cracks down on unlicensed contractors in Jacksonville

An undercover investigator posing as an unsuspecting homeowner helped bust 11 unlicensed contractors last month, part of a series of similar operations across Florida. All of the unlicensed contractors were charged with soliciting contracting work without state licenses, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The crime is a Jacksonville first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. The investigation was a joint effort between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations and the Northeast Florida Builders Association, the newspaper reported. The proposed jobs varied, but included a new patio, converting a bathtub into a shower and electrical work.

In Jacksonville criminal cases and stings like this, most times the defendants do very little time in jail – if any at all. Unless one of the defendants has a previous conviction for the same charge, or a lengthy criminal record with some similar crimes, these types of cases typically work out for a sentence of probation. These types of stings are designed more for the public than they are looking for serious time behind bars. Police are trying to send a message to other contractors that they are watching and that the crimes will be taken seriously. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office paraded all 11 mug shots to local media outlets and they were plastered all over television and the internet shortly after the bust. It can be more about letting people know the law is out there. The same can be said for prostitution stings. Jacksonville police usually conduct at least one a year, generally putting an ad on the Internet for an escort service. As in the contracting case, the men’s booking photos are distributed and broadcast locally, likely leading to a divorce or two over the years.

But just because the prison sentence isn’t as long as a Jacksonville Drug Crime or Gun Crime, doesn’t mean it is not extremely serious. This Jacksonville misdemeanor crime could stay with these contractors for quite some time. It may affect their ability to get a license, if they do ever intend to get one. Some of the defendants may be hesitant to plead guilty for that very reason.

Our experienced Jacksonville Misdemeanor Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, has represented people in similar types of stings and knows this is often people’s first time dealing with the criminal justice system. It can be intimidating and lead people to do whatever they can to get rid of the crime immediately. But that’s not always the best move in the long run. An immediate guilty plea could cause serious damage in terms of future employment. Our Jacksonville Criminal Attorney will help a defendant understand all of his or her options, but then lets the client make the ultimate decision.

If you or a loved one needs an Experienced Misdemeanor Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Misdemeanor Attorney is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.