Price Gouging During State of Emergency: Second Degree Misdemeanor

Under Florida’s laws, it is illegal to charge unconscionable prices for goods or services following a declared state of emergency. ( Florida Statute 501.160 ) This statute covers any essential commodities and services, meaning any good or service that is required for use as a direct result of the emergency.

Gouging complaints are investigated by first determining the unconscionable cost associated which the commodity offered by the seller. Unconscionable cost is determined by the gross disparity between the price of the commodity offered by the seller, and the average price the same commodity is sold under the usual course of business 30 days immediately prior to a state of emergency declaration.

Next, the seller must verify their privilege to do business. A seller of unconscionably priced commodities who do not possess a tax license to do business within the counties jurisdiction would not have privilege to do business at all.  

During a declared state of emergency, those who offer goods at an unconscionable price could face a second degree misdemeanor.

If you are a victim of price gouging you can call the Sheriff’s Office at 941-639-0013 or file a complaint with the attorney general’s office by calling their hotline at 1-866-966-7226 or online here.

Price Gouging Hotline: 1-866-966-7226

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