Weights and Measures Fraud
Companies that sell goods by weight or measure are required to comply with state regulations regarding how measurements are taken, the types of equipment that must be used, and the information that must be included on packages. Violating these rules can have serious repercussions, including fines and even jail time, so if you are being investigated for weights and measures fraud, it is critical to retain an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can explain your legal options.
Weights and Measures Regulations
In Florida, companies that use gas pumps, scales, price scanners, and other commercial weighing and measuring devices must conform to state law as well as the standards adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. To ensure compliance, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) inspects and tests all weights and measures that are commercially used:
- To determine the weight, measure, or count of commodities; or
- To compute the basic charge for services rendered based on weight or measure.
The FDACS also has the authority to weigh or inspect packaged commodities that have been sold, are being offered for sale, or are in the process of being delivered to determine whether they contain the amounts represented. Any incorrectly marked packages or weighing equipment that does not comply with state law can be seized without a warrant. Furthermore, the FDACS is authorized to enter any commercial property during business hours to inspect or seize property. Even barring entry to an FDACS employee or refusing to allow an inspection is considered a second degree misdemeanor.
In order to operate an instrument that is used to weigh or measure a product for a commercial purpose, the equipment owner must first obtain a permit from FDACS. In the event that ownership of a business for which a permit has been issued changes and the equipment remains in the same location, the permit will transfer to the new owner. However, the new owner will still be required to notify the department of the change. If, on the other hand, the equipment is moved to a new location, the permit will automatically expire and the new owner will need to apply for a replacement permit. Certain devices do not require the owner to obtain a permit, including:
- Taximeters that are licensed or registered by a city, county, or other local government;
- Devices used exclusively for weighing railroad cars; and
- Devices used only for measuring aviation fuel or petroleum products.
Those who do not qualify for an exemption, but still do not obtain a permit can be fined and charged with a second degree misdemeanor.
Call Today to Speak With an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
If your business has been charged with weights and measures fraud, please contact a white collar crime attorney at the Miami law firm of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 to schedule a free consultation. A member of our legal team can also be reached via live chat.