Jonathan Sahrbeck is the Cumberland County District Attorney (D.A.). He reviews and prosecutes cases brought to his office by the police. Mr. Sahrbeck knows that U.S. laws and our criminal justice system can be confusing, and welcomes questions from the community. Please send your questions to: [email protected] and we will forward them.

Q. We know that immigrants come here from different systems, with different laws and regulations. Are there any patterns of crimes that are committed by immigrants?

A. From speaking to many New Mainers, it does seem that there is some confusion when it comes to driver’s licenses. A lot of this stems from not understanding the difference between a driver’s “permit” and a driver’s “license.”
A driver’s permit is permission to drive under certain conditions, usually with a licensed driver), and comes first. A driver’s license is what someone receives after having a driver’s permit. A driver’s license allows a person to drive on their own, with limited restrictions. The purpose of requiring a driver’s license is to ensure that people who are driving have the training and ability to drive, and understand the safety rules of the road.
In many other countries, a “permit” is all that is necessary to drive, so when some people receive a permit here, they may be under the impression that they can drive without restrictions. Due to that confusion or misinformation, we often see New Mainers get charged with “operating without a license” because they drive with only a permit, but not a license.

Q. What are the statistics about juvenile detention within the immigrant community? Are there any patterns?
A. The immigration status of juveniles is not something that the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office tracks. However, we do not see any specific concerns among New Mainers that are different from the concerns that we have for all youth in Cumberland County. These include substance use, bullying, mental health concerns, risky decision-making, and engaging in dangerous and violent behavior.

Q. What role can parents and the community play to help support kids? What supports does your office offer? What other resources are out there?
A. My suggestions involve education and communication. Schools, local governments, afterschool programs, community programs, and law enforcement all have resources and supports for New Mainers. School guidance counselors and social workers can help answer questions and I would urge parents to reach out for advice. I would also become familiar with the symptoms that result from substance use, trauma, bullying, and other negative influences, so you recognize them if they become an issue for your child. Lastly, I would communicate with other parents about what they are seeing and what they have found to be helpful. If you contact me at the DA’s office either by phone (207-871-8384) or by email ([email protected]), we can offer information about knowing your rights, substance use disorder, unaddressed mental health concerns, and adverse childhood experiences. We can also help people who are victims of crime navigate through the criminal justice system.

Jonathan Sahrbeck was born and raised in Cumberland County, and became the District Attorney in 2019, after working for many years as a prosecutor. He looks forward to working with community partners on addressing substance use and mental health issues, and on educating the public about the effects of adverse childhood experiences and trauma, and welcomes outreach.