Contractors are responsible for constructing, repairing, adjusting, and demolishing buildings and other structures in California. Carrying out this work legally requires a license. A failure to obtain this license can lead to charges under California Business and Professions Code Section 7028: Contracting Without a License.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you go over the details of BPC 7028 charges right here. Consider the repercussions for a contracting without a license conviction and the applications of this charge in the court system today.
California’s Definition of Contracting Without a License
Individuals in California are only allowed to work as contractors if they have a contractor’s license in good standing. This means that, according to BPC 7028, individuals can face criminal charges for working as contractors if they do not have a contractor’s license. Similarly, they can face charges if they have a suspended contractor’s license.
Contractor’s licenses may be suspended if a contractor:
- Doesn’t pay a civil penalty
- Doesn’t obey an order of correction
- Is arrested for a crime “substantially related” to contracting activities
Note that individuals cannot avoid contracting without license charges by using another contractor’s license number. This act is also illegal, and it can be prosecuted under California Business and Professions Code Section 7027.3: Fraudulent Use Of A Contractor’s License Number.
How a Related Crime Can Affect Your Contracting License
Contractors can have their licenses suspended or revoked for committing a crime “substantially related” to contracting activities. Similarly, you can be rejected when applying for a license if you have a related crime within the past seven years.
For serious crimes like murder, rape, or grand theft, the conviction does not have to be within the last seven years or directly tie to contracting. If contracting is your livelihood, a conviction for these types of crimes can bar you from ever working legally again.
Then, if you continue to work without a contractor’s license, you could find yourself in additional hot water under BPC 7028.
Defining Contractors in California
Individuals may be unsure if they are considered contractors or not in California. Generally, contractors are builders. This means that individuals may be working as contractors if they work on building projects for any type of structure.
Common tasks associated with construction work include:
- Building, repairing or improving a structure
- Altering or adding to a building
- Moving, demolishing, or wrecking a built structure
Individuals may be legally considered contractors if they directly take part in these activities or if they employ other individuals who complete the direct labor.
Penalties for Contracting Without a License
Individuals who engage in contracting without a license may be charged with a white-collar crime misdemeanor in the California court system. Note that the penalties for contracting without a license vary depending upon whether the individual is a first-time or repeat offender. The penalties can become quite harsh for repeat offenders.
Penalties for a First Offense
Even with a first-time offense, a violation of BPC Section 7028 can carry strong penalties, including:
- Fines: Up to $5,000
- Jail time: Up to six months
- Summary probation
Penalties for a Second Offense
The potential penalties increase for a second offense and include:
- Fines: Up to 20% of the contract price or $5,000 (whichever is higher)
- Jail time: No less than 90 days
- Summary probation
Penalties for a Third Offense
The penalty caps for a third offense are the highest charges you can face under BPC 7028. Any subsequent offenses will fall under the same punishment guidelines, which include:
- Fines: Up to 20% of the contract price or $10,000 (whichever is higher)
- Jail time: Up to one year
- Summary probation
When determining fines for second and subsequent offenses, the court system will choose either a set fine or 20% of the contract price. The court will select whichever amount is higher.
Getting a Conviction Expunged
After a conviction under California BPC Section 7028, you have the possibility of getting the offense expunged from your record.
To get a conviction expunged, you typically have to successfully complete any jail time or probation assigned by the court. If you followed all court orders and completed your sentence without incident, you have a good chance of getting your record expunged.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help increase your chances of wiping the slate clean and restoring any rights you may have lost while the conviction was on your record.
When arrested for a violation of California BPC Section 7028, there are a number of other charges that you could face as well, depending upon the particulars of your situation. Some of the other California statutes that may come into play include:
- California Business & Professions Code Section 7027.3: Fraudulent Use of a Contractor’s License Number
- California Penal Code Section 472: Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal
- California Business & Professions Code Section 7027.1: False, Misleading, or Deceptive Contract Advertising
Defenses for BPC 7028 Accusations
A contracting without a license charge can have a serious impact on your life. You can take control if you face a BPC 7028 accusation by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer can assess your specific situation to build your defense. Depending on your case, your lawyer may be able to argue several different points.
Some of the most common defenses used against charges under California BPC 7028 include:
- That you were an employee – not a contractor
- That you were completing a small operation
- That you’re not a contractor
That You Were an Employee – Not a Contractor
Employees who work for a contracting company do not need to worry about a contractor’s license. This means that your company must maintain a contractor’s license to avoid BPC 7028 charges, not you. If your boss is operating without a valid contractor’s license, they are the one who should face a charge under this statute.
That You Were Completing a Small Operation
There is a legal exception to BPC 7028 that can help you avoid a conviction if you were working on a contract that was worth under $500. This means that you can legally complete minor or casual contracting jobs without a license.
That You’re Not a Contractor
We went over the legal definition of contractors earlier in the article. Individuals who are not considered contractors are not required to obtain a contractor’s license. If you fall outside the legal definition of a contractor, you may be able to avoid a BPC 7028 conviction.
Examples of BPC 7028 Violations in California
Review the following examples to discover when a charge is likely under California BPC 7028.
Man A is good at construction work, but he doesn’t have a contractor’s license. His neighbor asks him to repair some damage to an interior wall and agrees to pay him $250. Man A completes the work without a contractor’s license. However, he should not face charges because the job is considered a small operation.
Man B has worked as a contractor for a long time. However, his license was recently suspended for failure to pay a civil penalty. He keeps working as a contractor anyway. He could be convicted under BPC 7028.
Woman A is employed by a contracting company. Her boss has had his contracting license suspended due to failure to obey an order of correction. Her boss continues to work under the suspended license and is arrested for a violation of California BPC Section 7028.
Woman A should not face any charges under this law because she is not a contractor, so the responsibility of maintaining a valid license is not hers to bear.
Handle Contracting Without a License Charges With Professional Help
Individuals facing California Business and Professions Code Section 7028: Contracting Without License charges can get help by reaching out to a criminal defense lawyer. The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can offer you legal advice today with a free initial case evaluation.
Give us a call or complete our online contact form to get started. Let us help you protect your future if you’ve been charged with a crime.