by Rebecca Macatee | Tue., Apr. 17, 2012 11:36 AM
Pippa Middleton royally screwed up.
Over the weekend, an unidentified male seated next to her in a convertible waved a gun at the paparazzi in Paris. Clearly, Duchess Kate's kid sis should keep better company, but she's probably not in any trouble with the law.
French police said they can't launch an investigation on Pippa's male friend based on photo evidence alone. Which seemingly means Pippa can't be called upon as a witness.
Or can she?
"The French press is playing [this incident] on the entertainment pages if they're even playing it at all," Christopher Dickey, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief, said on this morning's Today. "They're not taking this very seriously because there are no charges."
A paparazzo also told French website Gala.Fr that at least one of the photographers was "in on the joke" and the gun was just a toy.
Which is good news for Pippa, because, as French attorney Pierre Hourcade tells E! News, Prince William's sister-in-law wouldn't be liable "unless she knew or had reason to know that her friend had a [real or fake] gun and intended to use it or otherwise encouraged him to use it."
"Concerning Pippa, someone can only be an accomplice by aiding or abetting the perpetrator," Hourcade says. "Under French law the person needs to willfully act in order to help the perpetrator. Someone can also be an accomplice if they direct someone to act a certain way or if they make a promise to the perpetrator regarding the criminal act."
Also per French law, however, Pippa's pal could face up to two years in prison even for pulling out a toy gun in public. But police won't probe any such allegations unless a potential witness comes forward or the photographer presents officers with evidence.
"French law does not treat differently real guns and fake guns as far as a criminal act is concerned," Hourcade says. "When a fake gun has the appearance of a real gun and is used to threaten or scare someone, it is considered as if it were a real gun for law purposes."
Making threats is punishable by six months' imprisonment and a 7,500 euro fine. Meanwhile, both the driver and Pippa, if she was knowingly participating in a prank, could possibly be charged for "trouble to the public order," a minor offense.
"Should the driver be questioned about the case, Pippa might be asked to come back to Paris and answer questions as a witness," Hourcade says.
Team Middleton has yet to make a formal statement about Gungate, but Pippa might get a talking-to behind closed doors, especially after the Daily Mail ran details of the birthday bash Her Royal Hotness had been attending before the incident. Noted French party animal and designer Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait was throwing himself a massive 30th celebration for 300 of his closest pals, all in 18th-century garb. Billed as Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Vicomte (the king is dead, long live the vicomte), the decadent affair featured costumed dwarves, a cleavage-baring nun, fire jugglers and the birthday dude in a dog collar.
"I don't think the palace will say a word but I think her sister will give her the mother of all tongue lashes," quipped MSNBC's Martin Bashir.
Can't say we blame her.
—Additional reporting by Baker Machado
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