Forcible Rape Content Updated 02/17/06


Forcible rape, as defined in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults and attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.


Year Number of offenses Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
2003 93,883 32.3
2004 94,635 32.2
Percent change +0.8 -0.2

Offense Methodology

The UCR Program counts one offense for each female victim of a forcible rape, attempted forcible rape, or assault with intent to rape, regardless of the victim’s age. The Program classifies as Part II offenses all other crimes of a sexual nature and, as such, collects only arrest statistics concerning them. Statutory rape, in which no force is used but the female victim is under the age of consent, is included in the aggregated arrest total for the sex offenses category. Sexual attacks on males are counted as aggravated assaults or sex offenses, depending on the circumstances and the extent of any injuries.

Figure 2.5
Forcible Rape
Percent Change from 2000
Figure 2.5: Forcible Rape Percent Change from 2000

National Volume, Trends, and Rates

During 2004, approximately 94,635 females nationwide were victims of forcible rape. (See Table 1.) This estimate represents a small increase of 0.8-percent from the 2003 number and a 4.9-percent rise from the 2000 figure. However, the 2004 data showed a 2.9-percent decrease when compared to the 1995 estimated volume of female forcible rapes.

In preparing rate tables for inclusion in this report, the UCR Program’s computer system automatically calculates offense rates per 100,000 persons for all Part I crimes. Thus, the rate data that appear in the trend box above and in subsequent tables in this book are based upon the total U.S. population. However, in preparing this narrative, UCR Program staff manually recalculated the 2004 rate of female rapes based upon the national female population provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The recalculation resulted in a rate of 63.5 (63.46) rape victims per 100,000 females. The 2004 rate was virtually unchanged from the prior year’s estimate (63.54). Although the 2004 rate is 1.1 percent higher than the 2000 rate of 62.7, it is 12.4 percent lower than the 1995 rate, which was 72.5 forcible rapes per 100,000 females. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)

Of the forcible rapes in 2004, law enforcement agencies reported that 91.6 percent were completed; the remainder were attempts or assaults to rape. (Based on Table 19.)

Regional Offense Trends and Rates

The national UCR Program conducts regional analyses of crime by separating the United States into four areas: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. (A map delineating these regions appears in Appendix III.) The following commentary offers estimates of the volume of female rapes, the percent change from the prior year’s estimate, and the rate of rape per 100,000 female residents within each region. Although the 2-year trend (2004 vs 2003) indicated that the rate of female rapes was virtually unchanged nationally, the regional breakdowns revealed some variations from the prior year’s data. (Based on Tables 3 and 4.)

The Northeast

During 2004, 12,243 forcible rapes of females—12.9 percent of the national total—occurred in the Northeastern states. The region’s rate of 44.2 forcible rapes per 100,000 females was the Nation’s lowest and reflected a 2.9-percent decrease from the 2003 rate, which was 45.5.

Table 2.17

Forcible Rape by Month
Percent Distribution, 2000-2004

Month 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
January 8.0 7.7 7.6 7.9 8.1
February 7.5 7.1 7.0 6.8 7.7
March 8.5 8.4 7.8 8.3 8.7
April 8.0 8.3 8.6 8.0 8.4
May 9.0 8.8 9.0 9.0 9.0
June 9.1 8.7 9.0 8.8 8.5
July 9.5 9.7 9.6 9.5 9.2
August 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.0
September 8.4 8.6 9.1 8.9 8.4
October 8.3 8.5 8.4 8.4 8.5
November 7.5 7.6 7.4 7.8 7.6
December 6.9 7.2 6.9 7.1 7.0

The Midwest

Approximately one quarter of all female rapes during 2004 (25.3 percent) happened in the Midwest Region. With an estimated 23,900 forcible rapes of females, this region had the highest rate: 71.6. The 2004 rate represented a small increase (0.7 percent) over the 71.1 rate estimated for 2003.

The South

The South, the most populous region of the United States, accounted for 38.2 percent of the national total of female rapes. Based on an estimated 36,113 female victims in 2004, the rate of forcible rapes for the region was 67.1 per 100,000 females. This rate was a 1.3-percent increase compared with the 2003 estimate of 66.3 offenses per 100,000 females.

The West

In 2004, the West accounted for 23.6 percent of the total forcible rapes of females. The estimated 22,379 offenses yielded a rate of 65.4 rapes per 100,000 females. The 2004 rate declined 1.7 percent from the estimated 66.5 per 100,000 females in 2003.

Community Types

Using the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s designations, the UCR Program aggregates crime data by the type of community in which the offenses occur: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside MSAs, and nonmetropolitan counties. (Appendix III provides more detailed information about community types.)


Nearly 83 percent (82.9) of the U.S. population resided in an MSA during 2004, and this community type accounted for 84.0 percent of the forcible rapes of females nationwide. An estimated 79,531 females were forcibly raped within metropolitan areas, a figure that yielded a rate of 64.4 offenses per 100,000 females. (Based on Table 2.)

Cities Outside MSAs

Cities outside MSAs are mostly incorporated areas served by city law enforcement agencies. Though accounting for only 6.8 percent of the national population in 2004, this type of community had the highest rate of forcible rapes of females, 76.4 per 100,000 females. By volume, cities outside metropolitan areas accounted for about 8.2 percent of the national total of forcible rapes of females, approximately 7,732 offenses. (Based on Table 2.)

Nonmetropolitan Counties

In 2004, approximately 10.4 percent of the Nation’s inhabitants resided in a nonmetropolitan county, that is, one made up of mostly unincorporated areas served by noncity law enforcement agencies. Collectively, those areas had approximately 7,372 forcible rapes of females, 7.8 percent of the national total. Among the three community types, nonmetropolitan counties had the lowest rate of forcible rapes per 100,000 females — 47.7. (Based on Table 2.)


In the UCR Program, law enforcement agencies may clear an offense by the arrest of at least one person or by exceptional means. An exceptional clearance is reported when some element beyond the control of law enforcement precludes the agency from making an arrest that otherwise would be accomplished; for example, the victim refuses to cooperate with the prosecution. (Section III provides more information concerning clearances.)

Nationwide in 2004, law enforcement agencies cleared, either by arrest or by exceptional means, 41.8 percent of reported forcible rapes. Among the Nation’s cities, the overall clearance rate for forcible rape was 40.1 percent. Cities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants had the highest clearance rate (43.8 percent), and those with populations of 100,000 to 249,999 had the lowest rate (38.1 percent). County law enforcement agencies cleared 46.8 percent of the forcible rapes that occurred in metropolitan counties and 45.8 percent of those that took place in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 25.)

By region, law enforcement agencies in the Northeast cleared 46.0 percent of reported forcible rapes in 2004, compared with 45.2 percent in the South, 39.9 percent in the West, and 35.2 percent in the Midwest. (See Table 26.)

Clearances and Juveniles

Juvenile clearances are reported when a person under the age of 18 is cited to appear in a juvenile court or is turned over to another juvenile authority; it is not necessary for an arrest to actually occur. Importantly, according to the UCR Program’s definitions, when a law enforcement agency clears a crime involving both juveniles and adults, the agency classifies the action as an adult clearance. A juvenile clearance is recorded when a crime involves only juveniles. For this reason, juvenile clearance data may not reflect the total involvement in crime of youthful offenders.

In 2004, clearances nationwide involving only juveniles made up 12.2 percent of the total number of clearances for forcible rape. Among the Nation’s cities, the proportion of forcible rape clearances classified as juvenile ranged from a low of 8.2 percent in the largest cities (250,000 and over in population) to a high of 14.1 percent in cities with populations of 25,000 to 49,999. County law enforcement agencies classified as juvenile clearances 14.3 percent of the total number of forcible rapes cleared in metropolitan counties and 15.2 percent of those cleared in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 28.)