The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Fahey, over an extensive two-judge dissent, determined defendant was properly pursued and detained after a police officer saw him on the street drinking from a container inside a paper bag and then saw him run inside a nearby building as the officer approached. The Court further determined the intent to defraud could be inferred from the defendant’s possession of counterfeit bills. The defendant had both counterfeit and real money on his person, kept separately. The issues were succinctly described in the dissent:
From the dissent:
The majority lauds the hot pursuit and forcible detention of Clinton Britt, a man drinking a Lime-A-Rita&TLRtrade; wrapped in a brown paper bag in Times Square shortly before midnight, and his subsequent conviction for intending to spend counterfeit money absent any indication that he attempted or planned to use it, simply because it was found rubber-banded separately from his real money when he was searched upon arrest. Both are mistakes.
The first — let’s chase and physically detain people drinking from unseen containers in brown paper bags — is perhaps understandable because of the tremendous difficulty inherent in the mis-application of our De Bour test in many real-world situations. The sad consequence of that mistake is a regression from the legislative and prosecutorial progress eschewing policing based on stereotypes, returning us to the world of broken windows — where police pursue quality of life violations that disproportionately affect the poor (not merely those committing the infractions, but their families, neighbors and communities).
The second — let’s equate the separation of real from counterfeit money with the intent to defraud — is inexplicable. It overturns our clear holding in People v Bailey (13 NY3d 67 ), by contravening the most fundamental proposition of evidence: a fact is not evidence unless it makes the disputed issue more likely to be true than it otherwise would be. Put simply, if you knew you had counterfeit money on your person and did not want to use it, you would keep it separate from your real money. That [defendant] kept his real and fake money separate says nothing about his intent to use it to defraud, deceive or injure anyone, which is a statutory requirement under Penal Law § 170.30. People v Britt, 2019 NY Slip Op 09060, CtApp 12-19-19