OPINION OF THE COURT
We hold that the evidence in this case was sufficient to support the jury's finding that defendant caused "substantial pain" and therefore "physical injury" to his victim.
Defendant made the mistake of committing burglary in a building where Adrian Gentles was working. Gentles confronted him and the two scuffled, defendant trying to escape and Gentles trying to hold on to him. Defendant bit Gentles on the left ring finger and fled, but Gentles followed him in a car, eventually cornered him, and turned him over to the police.
The bite caused Gentles's fingernail to crack and his finger to bleed. After defendant was captured, Gentles went to the hospital, where he received a tetanus shot and a bandage. Gentles gave the following testimony about what the bite felt like:
A jury convicted defendant on several charges, including second degree burglary (Penal Law § 140.25) and second degree assault (Penal Law § 120.05 ). It is an element of both these crimes that defendant caused "physical injury" to Gentles, and defendant challenges his conviction on the ground that proof of physical injury was lacking. "Physical injury," as used in the Penal Law, means "impairment of physical condition or substantial pain" (Penal Law § 10.00 ). We decide that the record supports a finding of substantial pain, and do not consider whether impairment of physical condition was also established.
Of course "substantial pain" cannot be defined precisely, but it can be said that it is more than slight or trivial pain. Pain need not, however, be severe or intense to be substantial. Beyond these generalizations, there are several factual aspects of a case that can be examined to decide whether enough pain was shown to support a finding of substantiality.
Perhaps most important is the injury defendant inflicted, viewed objectively. Here, defendant broke Gentles's fingernail and caused him to bleed—an experience that would normally be expected to bring with it more than a little pain. Also important is the victim's subjective description of what he felt; sometimes an objective account of the injury, unaccompanied by testimony about the degree of pain the victim experienced, will be enough (People v Rojas, 61 N.Y.2d 726 ), but sometimes it will not (Matter of Philip A., 49 N.Y.2d 198 ). Here, Gentles's testimony confirms that the pain was not trivial: he said it was in between "[a] little" and "a lot."
It is also relevant that Gentles sought medical treatment for the wound defendant inflicted—an indication that his pain was significant. And finally, the legislative history of the Penal Law
Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed.