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Paul Kolhoff

Other Texas exonerations with no crime
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On September 5, 2016, 36-year-old Paul Kolhoff was arrested in Mitchell County, Texas on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

The charge was based on a May 1997 conviction in Michigan when he was 17 years old. He was convicted as a juvenile of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a 10-year female relative and the case was closed on March 22, 1999. Under Michigan law, he was required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

On May 18, 2017, Kolhoff pled no contest in Mitchell County Criminal District Court to the charge of failing to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Kolhoff was released on parole on November 26, 2018. In May 2019, Kolhoff, acting without a lawyer, filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Kolhoff contended that the Michigan statute under which he was convicted is similar to a Texas statute of indecency to a child by contact. That offense carries a 10-year registration requirement instead of a lifetime requirement, which meant that his duty to register in Texas had expired on March 22, 2009.

Kolhoff claimed that he pled no contest to the Texas offense because his defense lawyer advised him he had no defense to the charge.

On January 15, 2020, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated Kolhoff’s conviction and sent the case back to Mitchell County. “The record shows [Kolhoff] did not have a duty to register. Therefore, [trial defense] counsel’s advice was deficient,” the court held. “[Kolhoff] contends that he would not have pleaded guilty but for counsel’s bad advice.”

On February 13, 2020, the Mitchell County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/8/2020
Last Updated: 6/8/2020
State:Texas
County:Mitchell
Most Serious Crime:Sex Offender Registration
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2016
Convicted:2017
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:8 years
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No