Charles Rizzo (defendant) and three other men intended to rob Charles Rao of a payroll valued around $1,200. Rizzo was supposed to point out Rao to the other men, who would then commit the actual robbery. The men, two of whom had guns, drove around town in a car looking for Rao, but they were never able to find him. The men drove to the bank where Rao was supposed to pick up the payroll, as well as to various buildings being constructed by the company for which Rao was carrying the payroll. During the men's search, nearby police became suspicious and followed the vehicle. Rizzo jumped out of the car and ran into a building, and police arrested all four men. Although the men never found Rao, and nobody with a payroll was located at the buildings where the men stopped, the men were charged with attempted robbery. After a trial, a jury convicted Rizzo and the others of attempted first-degree robbery. Rizzo appealed. The appellate court affirmed the conviction, and Rizzo appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.