Hate Crime

Crime in the United States 2004
Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation


A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.


In response to mounting national concern over crimes motivated by bias, Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990. The law directed the Attorney General to collect data “about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” The Attorney General delegated the responsibility for developing and implementing a hate crime data collection program to the Director of the FBI, who assigned the task to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In September 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to include both physical and mental disabilities. The UCR Program began collecting statistics on offenses motivated by bias against physical and mental disabilities in January 1997. The Church Arson Act of 1996 mandated that hate crime data collection become a permanent part of the UCR Program.

Those who developed the guidelines for hate crime data collection recognized that hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes; instead, they are traditional offenses motivated by the offender’s bias. After much consideration, the developers decided that hate crime data could be derived by capturing the additional element of bias in those offenses already being reported to the UCR Program. Attaching the collection of hate crime statistics to the established UCR data collection procedures, they concluded, would fulfill the directives of the Hate Crime Statistics Act without placing an undue additional reporting burden on law enforcement and, in time, would develop a substantial body of data about the nature and frequency of bias crimes occurring throughout the Nation. As a result, the law enforcement agencies that participate in the national hate crime program collect details about an offender’s bias motivation associated with the following offense types: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism of property. The law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System also collect data on additional bias-motivated crimes against persons or crimes against property (e.g., fraud) and publishes these crimes as Other.

An abstract based on the information received from law enforcement agencies that provided 1 to 12 months of hate crime reports during 2004 follows. More detailed information concerning the characteristics of hate crime can be found in the UCR Program’s annual publication Hate Crime Statistics.


The UCR Program published the first national hate crime data in 1992 with participation from 6,200 law enforcement agencies. Since then, the hate crime data collection program has been marked by a slow but steady increase in participation. A total of 12,711 law enforcement agencies took part in the national hate crime program during 2004. This number represents a 6.7-percent increase in agency participation from 2003. Of those agencies that participated, 2,046 (16.1 percent) reported hate crime incidents. (See Table 2.35.) By way of comparison, 11,909 agencies participated in the program in 2003, and 1,967 (16.5 percent) contributed hate crime incident reports.

Law Enforcement Reports

The national UCR Program views each hate crime as an incident, which may have multiple offenses, victims, and offenders. When aggregating the number of hate crime offenses committed against individuals, the UCR Program counts one offense for each victim. The offense types of murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation are crimes against persons. When counting crimes against property, the UCR Program allots one offense for each distinct incident regardless of the number of victims. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism comprise the offense types that the Program considers crimes against property .

For 2004, the hate crime program tallied 7,649 bias-motivated incidents involving 9,035 offenses directed at 9,528 victims. The offenses were committed by 7,145 known offenders.


The great majority of hate crime incidents involve a single bias, although the hate crime program accepts reports of multiple-bias incidents. By definition, a multiple-bias incident is one in which two or more offense types were motivated by two or more bias types. Of the 7,649 incidents reported by law enforcement agencies in 2004, 7 were multiple-bias incidents. (See Table 2.32.)

Law enforcement investigators found that racial prejudice motivated more than half of all the reported single-bias incidents (52.9 percent). They attributed 18.0 percent of the incidents to a religious bias, 15.7 percent to a sexual-orientation bias, and 12.7 percent to an ethnicity/national origin bias. The remaining incidents were ascribed to a disability bias. (Based on Table 2.35.)


In the hate crime program, bias-motivated offenses can be directed at persons, property, or society. During 2004, law enforcement agencies identified 9,035 offenses within the reported 7,649 incidents. Of these offenses, 62.4 percent were directed against persons, 36.9 percent against property, and the remainder (0.7 percent) against society.

Approximately one-half of all bias-motivated offenses against persons involved the crime of intimidation (50.1 percent). Nearly all of the other offenses directed at persons involved assaults: simple assaults made up 31.0 percent and aggravated assaults accounted for 18.4 percent of the offenses.

The majority of hate motivated offenses directed against property (84.4 percent) involved destruction, damage, or vandalism.

An analysis of the total reported offenses showed that intimidation accounted for 31.3 percent of the 9,035 offenses; destruction/damage/vandalism, 31.1 percent; simple assault, 19.4 percent; and aggravated assault, 11.5 percent of the total offenses. (Based on Table 2.33.)


Of the 9,528 victims of hate crimes in 2004, 9,514 were associated with an incident involving a single bias. More than half of that number (53.8 percent) were victims of racial prejudice. Of those, 67.9 percent were victimized because of anti-black attitudes, and 20.1 percent were targets of anti-white sentiments.

Victims of religious intolerance made up 16.7 percent of the victims of incidents involving a single bias. Of those, 67.8 percent were victims of anti-Jewish bias, and 12.7 percent were targets of anti-Islamic bias.

Of the total number of victims of single-bias incidents, 15.6 percent were attacked because of a sexual-orientation bias. The majority of those victims, 60.9 percent, were the objects of anti-male homosexual attitudes on the part of the offenders.

Approximately 13 percent (13.2) of the victims in single-bias incidents were targeted because of the offenders’ ethnicity/national orientation bias. Of those, 51.5 percent were marked because of the perpetrators’ anti-Hispanic views. (Based on Table 2.32.)

Less than 1 percent of the total victims of crimes motivated by a single bias were targets of an anti-disability bias. Of the 73 victims of this type of bias, 49 were the subjects of a bias against a mental disability.

Fourteen of the total 9,528 victims of hate crimes were the objects of multiple biases on the part of the offenders. (See Table 2.32.)


The hate crime incident reports for 2004 contained a total of 7,145 known offenders. The term known offender does not imply that the identity of the perpetrator was known but only that a distinguishing attribute of the individual, race, was noted on the incident report.

Of those persons who committed a crime based upon their perceived biases, 60.6 percent were white, and 19.7 percent were black. Nearly 13 percent (12.9) were classified as unknown race. Groups containing persons of various races accounted for 5.1 percent of the perpetrators, and the remainder were American Indian/Alaskan Natives or Asian/Pacific Islanders. (Based on Table 2.34.)

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