Murray Kaplan (defendant) was involved in a cocaine ring led by Kaplan’s cousin, Mike. During a police investigation into the operation, Detective Janis Grasso posed as a drug courier and arranged to purchase cocaine from Mike. When Grasso arrived at Mike’s office, Mike told Kaplan, who was present at the office, to “take care of” Grasso. Kaplan then retrieved a manila envelope from a file cabinet and placed it in front of Grasso. In exchange, Grasso handed Kaplan $15,000 in cash. Kaplan took the money and immediately began to count it. Kaplan was subsequently charged as an accomplice to criminal sale of a narcotic. At trial, the defense requested the court to charge the jury that, to find Kaplan guilty as an accomplice, the jury must find that Kaplan had both specific intent to sell a narcotic and a shared intent or purpose with the principal actors. The court denied counsel’s request, noting that the mens rea required for criminal sale was not the specific intent to make a sale, but the knowledge that the substance sold was a narcotic. The court then instructed the jury that to be found guilty as an accomplice, Kaplan must have acted with knowledge that he was selling cocaine and must have intentionally aided in the sale of the cocaine. Kaplan was convicted. The appellate division affirmed. The court of appeals granted Kaplan leave to appeal.