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De La Vega Opts For Trail

By Jose B. Rivera

April 16, 2004. New York artist James De La Vega appeared in court today before Judge Joseph Dawson to face disposition of a case stemming from an arrest on July 17, 2003. Surrounded by his supporters, including his mother Elsie Matos and Bronx Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, De La Vega was faced with the option to accept a year’s probation for a guilty plea on a graffiti misdemeanor. Picture of East Harlem Artist, James De La Vega, speaking at a rally on his behalf on Wednesday, April 14, 2004.  The Rally was held at East 104th Street and Lexington Avenue at 3:30 PMMedia Release
Offered Year Probation on a Guilty Plea, De La Vega Opts for Trial

The dialogue between Judge Dawson and De La Vega’s attorney Kenneth Gilbert focused on the language of the law regarding intent and graffiti. Judge Dawson was clear in explaining that he could only accept a guilty plea if De La Vega admitted that he painted on the wall with the intent to damage property. After much discussion and thought, De La Vega stated that he would only acquiesce if the language used indicated his admission to intentionally “making graffiti-art”.

Upon leaving the court room, De La Vega said: “Although I was prepared to take a guilty plea and a year’s probation, I could not accept having to admit to intentionally damaging property.  My intent was to share my art in the hopes of bringing a smile or a thought to the commuters stopped at the traffic light.”

A court date had been set for June 9.

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