martial law

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

Military control over all of a country's activities, usually during wartime or due to an emergency or widespread disaster. In the United States, martial law must be ordered by the president as commander-in-chief and must be limited to the duration of the warfare or emergency. In many foreign countries, martial law has become a method to establish and maintain dictatorships either by military leaders or politicians backed by the military. Compare: military law

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.