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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:These are bail bond forfeiture cases. In each case, the Thirteenth Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s final judgment for the state and against appellant. The principals in these cases were all Mexican nationals arrested in Hidalgo County and charged with felony drug possession. Appellant, the owner of a bail bond company, posted a bail bond for each of the principals. None of the principals appeared in the Hidalgo County court on the appointed day or on any day thereafter. The state moved, in each case, for bond forfeiture, and the trial court entered, in each case, a judgment nisi. The trial court later consolidated the cases for a bond forfeiture trial, and at that trial appellant sought exoneration from liability on the basis of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 22.13(3). The appellant argued that the principals had been deported and that those deportations amounted to “uncontrollable circumstances” within the meaning of Article 22.13(3). The trial court rejected appellant’s Article 22.13(3) affirmative defense, however, and entered final judgment for the state in each case. The final judgments awarded the state the full amounts of the bonds plus 6 percent interest calculated from the date the trial court signed the judgments nisi. The court of appeals rejected all of appellant’s arguments and affirmed the judgments of the trial court. HOLDING:Affirmed. In each case, appellant argues that he “was entitled to . . . exoneration [from liability] pursuant to Article 22.13 � 3 [sic] . . . because the principal[s'] failure to appear for [their] court setting[s] was a result of an uncontrollable circumstance which arose through no fault of either the principal[s] or the appellant.” To prevail with the affirmative defense provided by Article 22.13(3), appellant was required to prove, in each case, that 1. some uncontrollable circumstance prevented the principal’s appearance at court; 2. the principal’s failure to appear arose through no fault of his own; and 3. the principal appeared before final judgment to answer the accusation against him or had sufficient cause for not appearing. Hill v. State, 955 S.W.2d 96 (Tex.Crim.App. 1997). The record evidence is silent with respect to what happened to the principals once they were incarcerated in the INS facility in Los Fresnos. It is not known when or even whether they were actually deported, or when or even whether they were released from the INS facility. On this record, then, the trial court, as the trier of fact, could have reasonably concluded, in each case, that appellant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the first and third prongs of the Article 22.13(3) affirmative defense. In other words, the trial court could have reasonably concluded that appellant failed to prove the principals’ immigration status and whereabouts on the days they were scheduled to appear in state court. Even if the principals’ incarceration in Los Fresnos or their alleged deportations were considered “uncontrollable circumstances” preventing their appearance in court, on this record the trial court could have reasonably concluded, in each case, that appellant failed to prove that the principals’ failure to appear arose through no fault of their own, since they were apparently in this country illegally. OPINION:Holcomb, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Keller, P.J., and Price, Womack, and Cochran, JJ., joined. DISSENT:Johnson, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Meyers, Keasler, and Hervey, JJ., join. “For the reasons expressed in the Court’s opinion on original submission, Casteneda v. State, Nos. 2012-01, 2013-01, 2014-01, 2015-01, 2016-01, 2003 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 162 (Tex. Crim. App. July 2, 2003), I respectfully dissent.”

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