Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. According to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s definition, violent crimes involve force or threat of force.
|Year||Number of offenses||Rate per 100,000 inhabitants|
In 2004, there were an estimated 1,367,009 violent crimes nationwide. Of these, aggravated assaults comprised 62.5 percent; robbery, 29.4 percent; forcible rape, 6.9 percent; and murder, 1.2 percent. (Based on Table 1.)
The UCR Program examines data in increments of 2, 5, and 10 years to formulate trend information. From 2003 to 2004, the estimated volume of violent crime in the United States fell by 1.2 percent. The 5- and 10-year trend data showed that the estimated number violent crimes decreased 4.1 percent compared with the 2000 figure and 24.0 percent compared with 1995 data. The occurrence of violent crime throughout the Nation in 2004 was estimated at a rate of 465.5 violent offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, continuing a 13-year decline. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
A look at the volume of individual offenses within the violent crime category showed that in a year-to-year comparison of 2003 and 2004 data, the estimated number of robberies decreased 3.1 percent, of murders 2.4 percent, and of aggravated assaults 0.5 percent. The only violent crime to show any increase from 2003 to 2004 was forcible rape at 0.8 percent. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
In terms of the rate of offenses for each of the four violent crimes, aggravated assault had the highest rate, estimated at 291.1 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. There were an estimated 136.7 robberies, 32.2 forcible rapes, and 5.5 murders for each 100,000 resident population in 2004. (See Table 1.)
As explained in Appendix III, the UCR Program groups the states into four regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. The population distribution of the regions is provided in Table 3, and the estimated volume and rate of violent crime by region are presented in Table 4. An examination of violent crime by region showed that:
The Northeast accounted for an estimated 18.6 percent of the Nation’s population and an estimated 15.6 percent of violent crime in 2004. Of the four regions, the Northeast had the largest decrease, 2.5 percent, in the volume of violent crime. In addition, each of the offense types comprising the violent crime category had decreases in the volume of violent crime when compared with 2003 data. The number of robbery offenses fell 3.3 percent; forcible rape, 2.7 percent; aggravated assault, 2.0 percent; and murder, 1.9 percent.
In this region, there were an estimated 390.7 violent crimes for each 100,000 resident population, a 2.8-percent decline from the 2003 rate. By offense, the rates were estimated at 220.6 aggravated assaults, 143.6 robberies, 22.4 forcible rapes, and 4.2 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
With an estimated 22.4 percent of the Nation’s population residing in the Midwest, the region accounted for an estimated 18.8 percent of violent crime. This region had a 1.7-percent decline in violent crime in 2004 compared with 2003 data. The number of murders in that region fell 3.4 percent, aggravated assaults declined 2.1 percent, and robberies decreased 1.6 percent. The offense of forcible rape was the only violent crime that showed an increase in volume (1.1 percent), compared with 2003 data.
Violent Crime by Month
Percent Distribution, 2000-2004
The rate of violent crime in the Midwest was estimated at 391.1 offenses per 100,000 resident population, a 2.1-percent decrease from the 2003 rate. There were 233.2 aggravated assaults, 116.8 robberies, and 4.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. Forcible rape, with a rate of 36.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, was the only violent crime with an increase (0.7 percent) in the rate from the 2003 figure.
The South, the Nation’s most populated region, had an estimated 36.1 percent of the Nation’s inhabitants. An estimated 41.9 percent of the Nation’s violent crimes occurred in this region. Overall, violent crime decreased slightly (0.3 percent) in the region when compared with 2003 figures. The number of robberies and murders decreased, 4.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. However, from 2003 to 2004, the estimated volume of forcible rapes and aggravated assaults in that region increased 2.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
The estimated rate of violent crime in the South was 540.6 offenses per 100,000 in population, a decline of 1.6 percent compared with the 2003 rate. By offense, this region experienced 354.3 aggravated assaults (a 0.2-percent decline), 145.6 robberies (a 5.4-percent decrease), and 6.6 murders (a 5.0-percent decline) per 100,000 in population. Forcible rape was the lone violent crime to increase (1.2 percent) in the rate, 34.1 per 100,000 inhabitants.
With an estimated 23.0 percent of the Nation’s population, the West had an estimated 23.7 percent of violent crime. Overall in this region, violent crime declined 1.6 percent. Three of the four violent offenses decreased in the volume of violent crime compared with 2003 data—robbery decreased 2.5 percent, aggravated assaults declined 1.4 percent, and forcible rape declined 0.4 percent. A comparison of the 2004 data with 2003 figures showed that murder was the only offense in the West to show an increase, 0.8 percent.
Overall in this region, the estimated rate of violent crime was 480.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, a 3.0-percent decline from the 2003 rate. By offense, the murder rate, 5.7 per 100,000 in population, showed virtually no change from the 2003 data. The rate for aggravated assault was 305.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, a 2.8-percent decrease. The rate of robbery, 136.5, declined 3.9 percent, and the rate of forcible rape, 33.2, decreased 1.8 percent.
The UCR Program aggregates crime data into three community types: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside metropolitan statistical areas, and nonmetropolitan counties. Appendix III provides additional information regarding community types. Nearly 83 percent (82.9) of the Nation’s population lived in MSAs in 2004. Residents of cities outside MSAs accounted for 6.8 percent of the country’s population, and 10.4 percent of the Nation’s population lived in nonmetropolitan counties. (Based on Table 2.)
A look at the volume of violent crime by community type showed that an estimated 90.0 percent of violent crime occurred in the Nation’s MSAs, 5.5 percent of violent crime occurred in cities outside MSAs, and 4.5 percent of violent crime occurred in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties. (Based on Table 2.) By community type, the violent crime rates were estimated at 505.8 violent offenses per 100,000 inhabitants within MSAs, 377.0 violent offenses per 100,000 inhabitants in cities outside MSAs, and 201.5 violent offenses per 100,000 inhabitants in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 2.)
In the UCR Program, data are also aggregated into population groups, a description of which is provided in Appendix III. The Nation’s cities collectively had a 1.9-percent decrease in the number of violent offenses in 2004 compared with 2003 data. By city population group, cities with populations of 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants had the lone increase (1.0 percent) in the volume of violent crime. Violent crime decreased by 1.6 percent in the Nation’s metropolitan counties but increased slightly (0.3 percent) in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 12.)
The law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s cities, collectively, reported 577.0 violent offenses per 100,000 in population in 2004. By population group with the city label, law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s largest cities, those with 250,000 and over inhabitants, reported the highest rate, 932.6 violent crimes for each 100,000 inhabitants in 2004, and agencies in cities with 10,000 to 24,999 inhabitants reported the lowest rate, 303.7. Law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s metropolitan counties reported a rate of 331.1 violent crimes per 100,000 resident population; those in nonmetropolitan counties reported a rate of 215.6 violent crimes per 100,000 resident population. (See Table 16.)
The UCR Program collects weapon data for murder, robbery, and aggravated assault offenses. An examination of these data indicated that most violent crime (30.7 percent) involved the use of personal weapons, such as hands, fists, feet, etc. Firearms were used in 26.4 percent and knives or cutting instruments were used in 15.5 percent of violent crime. Other dangerous weapons were used in 27.3 percent of violent offenses. (Based on Tables 2.9 and 19.)
In the UCR Program, an offense may be cleared by an arrest when at least one person is arrested, charged with the commission of the offense, and remanded to the court for prosecution. An agency may also clear an offense by exceptional means when some force outside the agency’s control prevents the arrest of the individual. More in-depth information regarding clearances is provided in Section III.
In 2004, 46.3 percent of violent crime in the Nation was cleared by arrest or exceptional means. Typical of the violent offenses, murder had the highest percentage of offenses cleared. In 2004, law enforcement agencies cleared 62.6 percent of murders, 55.6 percent of aggravated assaults, 41.8 percent of forcible rapes, and 26.2 percent of robberies. (See Table 25.)
A comparison of clearance data by region showed that law enforcement agencies in the Northeast cleared 50.3 percent of the violent crime reported to them; the West, 47.1 percent; the South, 46.2 percent; and the Midwest, 41.8 percent. (See Table 26.)
Collectively, in the Nation’s cities, law enforcement agencies cleared 43.7 percent of violent crime. Of the population groups with the city designation, the Nation’s smallest cities, those with 10,000 and less in resident population, had the highest percentage of violent offenses cleared, 57.7 percent. Cities with 250,000 and over inhabitants had the lowest percentage of violent offenses cleared, 38.5 percent. Law enforcement agencies in the Nation’s metropolitan counties cleared 54.5 percent of violent crime; agencies in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties cleared 60.6 percent of violent crime. (See Table 25.)
When an individual under the age of 18 (a juvenile) is cited to appear before juvenile authorities, the incident is cleared by arrest despite the lack of a physical arrest. In addition, the UCR Program considers any clearance that involves both adults (those aged 18 or older) and juveniles as an adult clearance. Therefore, the juvenile clearance data are limited to those clearances involving juveniles only.
In 2004, 12.1 percent of violent crime clearances nationwide involved only juveniles. In the Nation’s cities collectively, 12.3 percent of violent crime clearances involved only juveniles. Of the Nation’s city population groups, cities with 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants had the highest percentage of clearances for violent crime solely involving juveniles, 14.2 percent; cities with 250,000 and over inhabitants had the lowest percentage, 10.5 percent. Law enforcement agencies in metropolitan counties reported that 12.3 percent of their clearances for violent crime involved only juveniles, and those in the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties, 9.3 percent of clearances. (See Table 28.)