Commonly Broken Kenyan Laws That Could Land You in Prison

Prison warders at a maximum facility in Kenya

Grasping every law stipulated in the Promulgated 2010 Constitution and several Acts enacted by the Parliament is quite a tall order. 

Sometimes you may not even be aware you are breaking the law, save for capital crimes and misdemeanours that a majority of us are familiar with.

Capital crimes which are commonly referred to as felonies involve serious physical harm (or threat of harm) to victims, from white-collar crimes to fraud schemes, rape and robbery with violence. 

Misdemeanours are minor crimes which carry up to a year jail term, payment of a fine, probation, community service, and restitution. Misdemeanour and capital crimes thus attract jail term sentences as opposed to infractions also known as violations.

An image of vehicles parked outside a police station
An image of vehicles parked outside a police station.

These are petty offences typically punishable by fines, but not jail time. 

That said, below are commonly broken Kenyan Laws that could land you in prison.

Wearing Attire Resembling Police or Military Uniform 

The National Police Service (NPS) has constantly warned that civilians face arrest if found wearing attire resembling police or military uniform as it sparks confusion among members of the public, thus contributing to insecurity. 

Combat clothing is a fashion trend that has picked up in recent years. 

The Penal Code Chapter 63 stipulates one-month imprisonment or a fine of six hundred shillings for any person who wears without lawful authority the uniform of any disciplined forces, or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of such uniform.


Under the National, Flag, Emblems and Names Act, anyone within the territory of Kenya is also barred from using police emblem. 

It states that, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, no person shall, use any specified emblem, specified name or specified likeness, or any colourable imitation thereof, in furtherance of, or display the same as an advertisement for, any trade, business, calling or profession."

You are liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh5,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both, if found contravening these provisions or if found guilty. 

A suspect in handcuffs
An undated illustration of a suspect in handcuffs

Idle and Disorderly Persons

The Penal Code Chapter 63 describes an idle and disorderly person as one who publicly conducts himself in an indecent manner in a public place. 

From begging in public, and causing mayhem while drunk to rowdy commercial sex workers. 


"Such persons shall be deemed idle and disorderly persons, and are guilty of a misdemeanour - liable for the first offence to imprisonment for one month or to a fine not exceeding Ksh100,000, or to both.

"And for every subsequent offence, they are liable to imprisonment for one year," the law stipulates. 

Possession of Polyethene bags

In 2017, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), banned the use of polyethene bags, aimed at reducing the effects of plastics on the environment. 

Possession of plastic bags attracts a fine of between Ksh50,000 and Ksh150,000. 

Garbage collection along Uyoma lane in Nairobi on October 25, 2020.
Garbage collection along Uyoma lane in Nairobi on October 25, 2020.


Littering or irresponsible waste disposal attracts a fine of Ksh200,000 or one-year imprisonment

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