California Business & Professions Code Section 7028 BPC: Contracting Without A License

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimeunlicensed contractors

Contractors operating in California must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board. The legislature requires this in order to protect the public from unscrupulous and unsafe contractors. Under California Business and Professions Code Section 7028 BPC it is illegal to engage in contracting without a license.

A prosecutor would have to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove a charge of contracting without a license:

  1. The defendant engaged in business or acted in the capacity of a contractor without having a license

  2. AND the defendant was not exempt from holding or obtaining a license.

“Contractor” has been defined by statute as being synonymous with “builder” and is any person who undertakes to or does himself or by or through others, construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, or improve any building, excavation or other structure, project, development or improvement.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Fraudulent Use of a Contractor’s License Number – California Business and Professions Code Section 7027.3 BPC
3. Examples

A man enters into a contract with a couple to provide the labor and materials needed to landscape the front yard of real property owned by the couple. The man is expected to remove surface rocks and debris from the premises, set topsoil down and finish-grade, install headerboards, apply weed killer and soil conditioner and then plant vegetation. The man is paid $1,000 for his services. At no time did the man ever hold a contractor’s license in California. This man could be convicted of contracting without a license under California Business and Professions Code Section 7028 BPC. The California Court of Appeals heard a case with similar facts and concluded that the definition of contracting is broad enough to include the type of work described above.

In another example, a man agrees to help his neighbor repair his retaining wall. The man considers this to be a minor project and only charges his neighbor $50 for the work, including labor and materials. The man is not a licensed contractor. This man would not be guilty of contracting without a license because there is a “small operations” exemption that precludes criminal liability for projects with a total contract price less than $100.

4. Defenses to Contracting Without a License

As discussed above, the small operations exemption states that the requirement to have a contractor’s license does not apply to any work or operation where the aggregate contract price for labor, material and all other items is less than $100 and such work or operations would be considered casual, minor or inconsequential. If the defendant’s work fell under the small operations exemption he would not be guilty of this offense.

In addition, a person who engages in contracting activities purely as an employee with wages as his or her sole compensation would not be subject to prosecution.

5. Penalties

Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor level offense. A person convicted of this offense can be sentenced to serve up to a year in jail. If the defendant has previously been convicted of contracting without a license, the court would impose a fine of 20% of the contract price or $4500, whichever amount is greater. In addition the defendant would have to be sentenced to a minimum of 90 days in jail unless the interests of justice would be served by a lesser fine or jail sentence.

If the defendant performing the unlicensed contracting work agreed to furnish materials and labor on an hourly basis, the price of the contract for the purpose of calculating fines would be the aggregate sum of the cost of labor and materials provided and the cost of completing the work left to be completed.

6. Criminal Defense for Contracting Without a License Cases

If you have been accused of contracting without a license, it is critical that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney who previously prosecuted white collar offenses such as this as an integral part of the District Attorney’s elite Major Fraud Unit. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the court system as skilled litigator who fights hard on behalf of his clients.

For more information about contracting without a license, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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