Due to heightened anti-terrorist measures in France right now, carrying a gun – even a fake one – to threaten others is a crime that can carry jail time. If Middleton is found to have had something to do with the driver having a gun, she could face charges. French lawyer Pierre Hourcade walked us through Middleton's legal situation.
What exactly Pippa is facing?
Someone can only be an accomplice by aiding or abetting the perpetrator. 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. Pippa won’t be liable (whether the gun is fake or real) unless she knew or had reason to know that her friend had a gun and intended to use it or otherwise encouraged him to use it. The same goes for the driver.
Threats are punishable by six months imprisonment and a 7500€ fine. It is 5 years imprisonment and a 4500€ fine if it is a death threat. Accomplices are liable to the same extent as perpetrators.
If the gun is real, what can Pippa be charged with and what is the penalty?
French law does not treat real guns and fake guns differently, as far as a criminal act is concerned. When a fake gun has the appearance of a real gun and is used to threaten or hurt someone, it is considered as if it were a real gun for law purposes.
What if the gun is fake?
If the gun was fake, the driver cannot be prosecuted for illegally carrying a gun. Illegal possession of a gun is a criminal offense punishable by 5 years imprisonment and a 3750€ fine. However, if Pippa was knowingly participating in the “prank,” she could be charged for disorderly conduct.
What will happen next in the process?
It is hard to tell you since it depends on how the police will deal with the incident and whether or not they decide to charge the driver. If he is questioned about the case, she might be asked to come back to Paris and answer questions as a witness.