With the surge in popularity of reality programming and news journalism, it seems that everyone wants their 10 minute of fame. But beware what you wish for -- it may carry unexpected consequences.

One Michigan woman learned this truth the hard way. The woman made the news after winning over $700,000 in the state lottery. However, the exposure also brought her under the scrutiny of TV station WDIV, which confronted her about continuing to collect food aid and medical benefits after winning the lottery. The TV exposure brought the issue to the attention of state prosecutors, who brought criminal charges against the woman, stating that she should have notified the Department of Human Services about her prize. From the state's perspective, it was a violation of state law for a lottery jackpot winner to continue collecting welfare.

The woman has pleaded no contest to the charge of fraud for continuing to collect welfare benefits after winning the lottery prize. For purposes of sentencing, that no contest plea may be deemed equivalent to a guilty plea. However, the woman's lawyers anticipate that she will be sentenced to probation when she returns to court at the end of the July.

Interestingly, the woman's case represents a change in Michigan state law. In 2011, another Michigan man, despite properly informing officials of winning an $858,000 prize, was allowed to temporarily keep his food aid card because one-time windfalls at that time were not counted as regular income. Gov. Rick Snyder subsequently signed a law that requires lottery officials to inform the Department of Human Services about their winnings.

If you have questions about whether an activity might be deemed fraudulent, an attorney can explain the most recent law to you.

Source: Huffington Post, "Amanda Clayton, Michigan Lottery Winner, Pleads No Contest To Fraud," Ed White, June 28, 2012