Broward County Regulations on Unlicensed Massages

 In South Florida, you can throw a stone in almost any direction and hit a massage parlor or two.  Most of these establishments are legitimate businesses providing a licensed therapeutic serviceBroward Unlicensed Massage Lawyer to clientele, while others…well, you know. There are many situations where police departments receive information which leads to investigations into these businesses. Many times, officers will go undercover as customers to investigate how the business operates.  Many of these investigations are to ensure that the business is properly licensed under Florida law and that every employee giving a massage has a state issued license to do so. The county has a great interest in making sure that massage parlors are properly licensed because the licenses take a lot of time, study and money to get. It is also dangerous for unlicensed and untrained individuals to be giving massages to customers.

prostituteThese investigations also include undercover officers entering the businesses as customers to find out if the massage parlors are offering services they are not permitted to. For example, a masseuse is not allowed to offer any sexual contact with the customer as part of their service at the business. On the other side, the customer is not allowed to ask for sexual gratification either. Florida prostitution law prohibits these types of interactions. 

Massage parlors are regulated by Florida Statutes chapter 480. If you’re interested in starting a massage parlor, it’s a very detailed read about all the requirements and licensing guidelines.

For proposed of commentary on the crackdown in Broward county, I’m focused on chapter 480.047 which spells out the penalties for violating these rules. 

Statute 480.047 states:

(1) It is unlawful for any person to:

(a) Hold himself or herself out as a massage therapist or to practice massage unless duly licensed under this chapter or unless otherwise specifically exempted from licensure under this chapter.

(b) Operate any massage establishment unless it has been duly licensed as provided herein, except that nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the teaching of massage in this state at a board-approved massage school.

(c) Permit an employed person to practice massage unless duly licensed as provided herein.

(d) Present as his or her own the license of another.

(e) Allow the use of his or her license by an unlicensed person.

(f) Give false or forged evidence to the department in obtaining any license provided for herein.

(g) Falsely impersonate any other license holder of like or different name.

(h) Use or attempt to use a license that has been revoked.

(i) Otherwise violate any of the provisions of this act.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

The maximum allowable punishment for any first-degree misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail, 12 months of probation and a fine of up to $1,000.00. While the charges are categorized as a misdemeanor, judges and prosecutors compare this type of behavior to practicing medicine or practicing law without a license, which are felonies. The thought process by the government is that the risk of harm and potential physical injury to the customer is high when the masseuse or masseur is not properly licensed. Therefore, we often see strict penalties for this type of charge.

The crackdown is not particularly focused on sexual misconduct, which occurs at some of shops in Broward County.  The crackdown is focused on the shop owners and employees to make sure that the licenses are up to par.  There is however a significant risk to customers who are in the shop when the police come storming in.  Overzealous police officers could easily write up criminal citations to these customers for soliciting prostitution.  This is a potential huge problem for the customers because a likely scenario is that the unlicensed masseuse as well as customer could be written up for misdemeanor offenses.

 To read the recent article in the Broward New Times click this link:Broward Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with massaging without a valid license or know someone who has, call an experienced attorney at Dell & Schaefer. Never go to court alone!

At Dell & Schaefer, your defense starts during the initial free consultation. Call today 1-800-403-3887.

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