In California, general contractors are legally obligated to meet certain professional licensure, insurance, and bondage requirements. Should a contractor in California engage in procurement without meeting these standards, they could face a criminal charge under Business and Professions Code 7028.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for contracting without a valid license, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Aron Law Firm, we are led by a former prosecutor with ample experience and expertise in all aspects of criminal law in California, including contracting without a license.

Regulations Against Performing Contractor Work Without a License in California

California defines a “contractor” as any person who undertakes or proposes to perform any of the following services to a building, highway, or other structure:

  • Construction
  • Alteration
  • Repair
  • Addition
  • Demolition
  • Improvement
  • Removal
  • Move

In California, contractors may not perform contracted work on any project worth more than $500 without a license to perform the work. This includes any person who accepts a larger job as multiple smaller jobs. For example, charging a $1,500 job as “three $500 jobs” is likely to be prosecuted under an unlicensed contract.

The absence of a license will preclude any legal or equitable action from collecting fees for the performance of the licensed work. Therefore, even if an unlicensed contractor’s work is perfect and the other party is satisfied with the work done, or if the owner knew that they were not licensed before the work began, they cannot sue for reimbursement for the amount owed for their services. In some instances, unlicensed contractors are forced to return every penny paid for the work back to the owner.

Penalties You Could Face for Contracting Without a License in California

Contractors performing construction work in California without a license are subject to severe fines and penalties. Every act of contracting without a license is punishable as a misdemeanor, but the penalties intensify with each subsequent offense.

The penalties you could face for contracting without a license in California are as follows:

  • First Offense: Up to 6 months in county jail and a fine not exceeding $5,000
  • Second offense: 90 days to 6 months in county jail and a fine of whichever is greater:
    • 20% of the contract price
    • 20% of the aggregate payments made to, or at the direction of, the unlicensed person
    • Five thousand dollars
  • Third Offense: 90 days to 1 year in county jail and a fine of at least $5,000 but nor more than the greater amount of:
    • Ten thousand dollars
    • 20% of the contract price
    • 20% of the aggregate payments made to, or at the direction of, the unlicensed person

If you have been accused of using someone else’s license without their knowledge, you could face additional charges for identity theft. Also, anyone who contracts to work in a state or federal territory affected by a natural disaster without a valid state contractor license may be charged with a felony.

General contractors hiring unlicensed workers and unlicensed subcontractors expose themselves to the risk of potential criminal prosecution and risk suspension from the California Contractor Licensing Board (CSLB).

Partner with a California Lawyer to Defend a Charge for Contracting Without a License

An unlicensed contractor is someone who performs home repairs or renovations without the professional license, business license, or insurance coverage required by law and is unable to carry out the work in the state in which they operate. Even a legitimate licensed subcontractor can run into problems if their license is suspended.

Do not risk a conviction for performing contract work without a license until you have partnered with an attorney who has experience with these types of cases. At Aron Law Firm, we work tirelessly to obtain an optimal outcome in every case. Call us at (805) 500-0867 or fill out our contact form to begin discussing your case with a qualified lawyer today.