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The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.

The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body. The UCR Program does not include the following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults.

Data collection

Supplemental Homicide Data—The UCR Program’s supplemental homicide data provide information regarding the age, sex, and race of the murder victim and the offender; the type of weapon used in the murder; the relationship of the victim to the offender; and the circumstance surrounding the incident. Law enforcement agencies are asked to provide complete supplemental homicide data for each murder they report to the UCR Program. Data gleaned from these supplemental data can be viewed in the Expanded Homicide Data section.

Justifiable homicide—Certain willful killings must be reported as justifiable, or excusable. In the UCR Program, justifiable homicide is defined as and limited to:

  • The killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty.
  • The killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.

Because these killings are determined through law enforcement investigation to be justifiable, they are tabulated separately from murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.

More information about justifiable homicide is furnished in the Expanded Homicide Data section and in Expanded Homicide Data Table 14, “Justifiable Homicide, by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2004–2008” and Expanded Homicide Data Table 15, “Justifiable Homicide, by Weapon, Private Citizen, 2004–2008”.


  • An estimated 16,272 persons were murdered nationwide in 2008. This number was a 3.9 percent decrease from the 2007 estimate, a 0.8 percent increase from the 2004 figure, and a 4.8 percent increase from the 1999 estimate.
  • There were an estimated 5.4 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2008, a 4.7 percent decrease from the estimated 2007 rate.
  • 89.4 percent of the murders that occurred in the United States in 2008 were within Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 6.3 percent were in nonmetropolitan counties, and the remainder (4.3 percent) occurred in cities outside metropolitan areas. (Based on Table 2.)

Expanded murder data

UCR expanded offense data are details of the various offenses that the UCR Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapon used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth. In addition, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and rates per 100,000 inhabitants.

Expanded information regarding murder is available in the following tables:
Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, and 14
Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Tables 16, 17, and 18
Expanded Homicide Data (supplemental homicide information):
   Victim data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13
   Offender data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 3, 5, and 6
   Victim/offender relationship data: Expanded Homicide Data Table 10
   Circumstance data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 10, 11, 12, and 13
   Weapons data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, and Table 20

What you won't find on this page

  • Data regarding deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; and attempts to murder or assault to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults.
  • Clearance and arrest data for murder.