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Federal Hate Crime Prosecutions, 2005-19

NCJ Number
Mark Motivans
Date Published
July 2021
15 pages

This report uses data from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS’s) Federal Justice Statistics Program to describe criminal prosecutions of federal hate crimes from 2005 to 2019.


In this report, hate crimes are defined according to statute information from federal justice agencies. They include crimes in which the perpetrator selected the victim based on certain victim characteristics, such as race, color, religion, and national origin. The four federal statutes that designate hate crimes are outlined. Data were obtained from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys’ Legal Information Office Network System and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The report indicates that during the 15-years of 2005-19, 1,864 hate-crime suspects were referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution in federal judicial districts in all 50 states. Hate-crime cases investigated by U.S. attorneys’ offices declined 8 percent, from 647 during 2005-09 to 597 during 2015-19. The conviction rate for hate crimes increased from 83 percent during 2005-09 to 94 percent during 2015-19. Just over 9 in 10 hate-crime defendants adjudicated in a U.S. district court during 2005-19 were convicted. Approximately 85 percent of those convicted of a hate crime were sentenced to prison, with terms averaging just over 7.5 years. Most (63 percent) of the hate crimes prosecuted involved one suspect. The most common reason for declining to prosecute a reported hate crime was insufficient evidence. 12 tables and 2 figures