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False Advertising

Florida businesses are strictly prohibited from using false advertising. Unfortunately, many business owners unknowingly commit acts that fall under the category of false advertising, which can have devastating consequences for their finances and reputation, so if you are being investigated for or have been charged with false advertising, it is critical to contact an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help you form a solid defense.

Elements of False Advertising

In Florida, a person has committed false advertising if he or she offers for sale any real, personal, tangible, or intangible property, or services by advertising to the public, but:

  • Does not intend to sell the property or services advertised; or
  • Does not intend to sell the property or services at the price at which they were advertised.

Generally, courts presume that a person had the intent to commit false advertising if he or she:

  • Failed to sell the objects advertised; or
  • Refused to sell the property or services for the price advertised.

However, this presumption can be rebutted through the presentation of convincing evidence.

Exceptions

According to Florida law, there are specific industries to which the false advertising laws do not apply, including:

  • Newspaper or magazine publishers; and
  • The owner or operator of a radio station, television station, or other advertising media.

These individuals cannot be held liable for false advertising if they place advertisements in good faith without knowledge that the person engaging them to do so does not intend to sell the property or services at the price represented to the general public.

Federal Law

False advertising is also a federal offense that is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect the health of consumers. This includes claims about the following products or services:

  • Food;
  • Over-the-counter drugs;
  • Dietary supplements;
  • Alcohol;
  • Tobacco; and
  • High-tech products.

When the FTC has evidence that a person or entity committed false advertising, it files a claim in federal district court seeking an immediate and permanent order to:

  • Cease advertising activity;
  • Prevent similar advertising in the future;
  • Freeze assets; and
  • Collect compensation for the alleged victims.

These actions can have serious repercussions for business owners and others who are unfairly accused of false advertising, making it especially important for those who have been charged with this offense to obtain the advice of an attorney who can protect their interests.

Contact us Today to Speak With an Experienced South Florida White Collar Crime Attorney

Unfortunately, due to the FTC’s prosecutorial zeal, many business owners are charged with false advertising, even when they had no knowledge that they or someone else in the company were making false claims. Even if these individuals are later exonerated, their business reputations may have already suffered to an irreparable degree, so if you live in south Florida and are being investigated for false advertising or another fraud-related offense, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can explain your legal options.

Resources:

flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/817.44

ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advertising

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