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Centreville, DE
Centreville, DE

5721 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807

Hockessin, DE
Hockessin, DE

724 Yorklyn Rd #100
Hockessin, DE 19707

Kennett Square, PA
Kennett Square, PA

209 East State Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

West Chester, PA
West Chester, PA

17 West Miner Street
West Chester, PA 19382

8:00am - 5:30pm
Opening hours Monday - Friday
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MacElree Harvey Offices
Home > Attorney > Caroline G. Donato

Caroline G. Donato Partner - Criminal Defense

(O) (610) 840-0294

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“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.” – Albert Einstein

Caroline G. Donato is a Partner in MacElree Harvey’s Criminal Defense Practice Group. She focuses her practice on federal and state criminal defense and related civil and administrative matters at both the trial and appellate levels. As part of the Corporate Compliance, Investigations, and Criminal Defense team, her experience includes federal and state business compliance matters, collegiate investigations, county and state grand jury investigations, and complex criminal allegations, including sex crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and crimes involving fraud and dishonesty. Caroline hosts Subject to Cross with Peter E. Kratsa, a podcast about criminal defense and related topics under the law, available on iTunes, Google, Spotify, and SoundCloud.

Before joining MacElree Harvey, Caroline clerked for a criminal defense practice in Wilmington, Delaware. She was also a law clerk for the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Delaware, a certified legal intern for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, a News Department Intern for CBS Philadelphia, a law clerk to several criminal defense attorneys throughout Pennsylvania, and a Public Policy Intern at the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics.

During law school, Caroline served as the President of the Women’s Law Caucus, the Treasurer of the Student Bar Association, and was a member and competed nationally on behalf of the Trial Advocacy, Moot Court, and International Moot Court Honor Societies, as well as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society. Caroline was also a member of and competed locally in the American Association of Justice Society. Caroline participated in and completed Widener Law’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.

Throughout her legal education, Caroline was the recipient of the 2014 Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association James J. Manderino Award for Trial Advocacy, the 2013-2014 Outstanding Service Award, and the 2013 Certificate of Achievement in White Collar Crime. She received Best Oral Advocate awards in local and national Moot Court Competitions, was part of the First Place Defense Team as a finalist in the 51st Annual Academy Interscholastic Mock Trial Competition, and won Best Overall Team in an American Association of Justice Competition.

Prior to law school, Caroline studied Politics and Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. She was a member of the University of Pittsburgh Women’s Lacrosse Team and captain during the 2010-2011 season. As a Public Policy Intern for the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, Caroline focused her research on Marcellus Shale and was published in the Institute of Politics Report, Issue 45.

To learn more about Caroline’s practice and recent cases, please visit www.peterkratsacriminaldefense.com.

Notable Representations

  • Successfully resolved felony allegations of aggravated assault and strangulation
  • Dismissal of PWID felony charges
  • Client acquitted by a jury of rape and related charges after a week-long jury trial
  • Proper and timely responses to various federal civil and administrative subpoenas for document production
  • Appeals before the Commonwealth Court for CYF Indicated and Founded Reports of child abuse
  • DUI appeal before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania
  • Success in Sexually Violent Predator sentencing
  • Success in PennDOT license suspension appeals
  • Success in defending Driving Under Suspension allegations
  • PFA defense and successful resolution of related Indirect Criminal Contempt
  • Successful suppression of statement and related search and expungement following seizure of drug paraphernalia
  • Successful resolution of terroristic threat allegations
  • Dismissal of theft allegations
  • Successful resolution of DUI charges and related unlawful searches
  • Favorable dispositions for clients accused of sex offenses and/or violent offenses
  • Favorable dispositions for clients charged with summary criminal and traffic offenses
  • Representation of state and federal grand jury witnesses
  • Successful resolution of strangulation and assault allegations with related expungement;
  • Successful negotiation of withdrawal of PFA petitions and ICC allegations;
  • Successful suppression motions and related prosecution declinations;
  • Successful withdrawals of non-traffic offenses;
  • Successful placement into ARD on serious allegations;
  • Successful mitigated sentences on serious allegations;
  • Obtained pre-trial federal and state release when opposed;
  • Obtained prosecution declination of felony theft allegations.


  • Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL)
    • Member (2014-present)
    • Next Generation Committee (2016-present), Chair (2018-2021)
    • CLE Committee (2017-2019)
    • Board of Directors Member (2020-present)
    • Advocacy Committee (2020-present)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2014-present)
  • Chester County Bar Association (2014-present)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association (2014-present)
  • American Bar Association (2014-present)
  • Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, Women Influencing Business Committee (2014-present)

Honors & Awards

  • Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry, 2019 Rising Star of the Year
  • Main Line Today, Top Lawyer (2015–2021)
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Rising Star (2018-2021)
  • Master of Laws – LLM, Trial Advocacy with Honors (2019-2020)


Practice Areas


I found myself in need of a criminal attorney facing charges that could result in incarceration and fortunately found Caroline for my case. Talking with her she knew I was innocent of the most serious charges I was accused of doing and developed a strategy to defend me. Throughout the process, Caroline showed excellent knowledge of the law, was articulate in explaining to me how we would proceed and demonstrated professionalism. She showed true personal concern, compassion and support for me, my family and my situation. In interactions with the prosecutor she was fearless and confident. When appearing in court, she was well prepared and precise in arguing my case. Caroline was able to satisfy the charges against me in the most favorable terms resulting in no incarceration and dropping of the most serious charges. I am very thankful for her and what she did for me and my family.

Lou Read more

Caroline Donato

Caroline did an extraordinary job of defending my rights which were unabashedly infringed. Not only was Caroline empathetic, warm and sincere - she was also prepared, diligent and well versed on the law to support my case. I am profoundly grateful for Caroline’s preparedness and astute acumen of case law as she sought to defend my individual and personal rights. There are no words stronger than my most sincere thanks for the work she did to ensure fair justice was reviewed and ultimately obtained.

Anonymous Read more


I have used Caroline on both my DUI charges and both times she has achieved the best possible outcome for me. Her hard work, knowledge and presentations are beyond compare. She was always there for me, guiding me and putting my mind at ease. I would not have been able to come as far as I have without her by my side. if anyone, anywhere, anytime needs a lawyer I will never hesitate to give them her number. Thank you Caroline again

Terri Read more

Along with being a great lawyer, Caroline is a great person to have on your side. She is a very strong and smart woman. She was very vocal and easy to get in touch with at any time. I appreciate everything Caroline has done for me. I will always appreciate everything she has done for me for the rest of my life. I highly recommend her for any problems you may have.

Anonymous Read more

5 Stars and Beyond

I was at my wits end. Tired and frustrated. I hired Caroline to defend my teenager and his underage drinking charge. Caroline not only presented the case in a clear concise professional manner, she went above and beyond to comfort me and assure me that it will be ok. Caroline has the ability to connect with her clients, even a teenager. I believe he listened to her advice even more then mine. I pray I will not have to use Caroline’s expertise again but I will certainly recommend her and praise her wonderful dedication to her profession. Moreover her compassion, understanding ,and encouragement. Eternally grateful, JM&JB

JM&JB Read more

Exceeding Excellence

Caroline was a phenomenal lawyer exceeding all excellency when it came to. As a lawyer, she went above and beyond with every action to ensure the best outcome for myself. I was charged twice on separate occasions and Caroline sought to it that I was ensured with the best possible outcome. Both times the outcomes were better than predicted. Stellar job to Caroline. Would highly recommend for anyone.

Anonymous Read more


Caroline Donato was hope to me and my family at a time when our options appeared limited and the likelihood of a satisfactory resolution seemed constrained. Not only was she able to defend me from an unjust accusation, her calm/confidence and empathetic demeanor offered emotional/compassionate support to myself and those I care about most. My wife, children and I are eternally grateful for her profound knowledge and professional services. I hereby recommend Ms. Donato without reservation.

Louis Read more

Talented, Knowledgeable, and Passionate

I'm a younger guy who had some fairly serious charges hanging over my head about 10 months ago, and my first lawyer did not make me feel like I was going to get through the legal proceedings without facing serious consequences. This individual was too busy with his many other cases to know details about my case without looking over notes. They were also late to appointments and even showed up to a preliminary hearing 90 minutes late. On the other hand, Caroline demonstrated an acute understanding of my situation as it relates to the law, and as we worked through my case over the last 8 months, I felt like she genuinely valued my time and that she was really passionate about being as prepared for trial as humanly possible. Caroline was extremely creative about preparing a defense for my case, utilizing a variety of resources that her firm has at their disposal. Fortunately, we didn't have to go to trial and were able to work out a reasonable deal with the Commonwealth. However, had we gone to trial, I would have had the utmost confidence in Caroline's ability to adequately represent me, present my defense, and corroborate that defense with the facts of the case in an extremely compelling manner. While I do hope that I am never in need of Caroline's services again, I would not hesitate to hire her again or refer her to anybody in need of a good lawyer.

Nick Read more

I wish all Lawyers could be like Caroline

I was in a pickle for sure! I was fighting my 2nd DUI with in 10 years. So I was definitely out of luck for trying something and basically just taking the punishment of what the system could give me. At the start, we were just trying to keep the damage to a minimum. I had come to the acceptance of what I was supposed to receive. However, unlike other Lawyers, Caroline looked into what it looked like 2 or 3 more times at my case where it should have been just a quick dollar she could make on a simple case. She was able to find something that took me from the highest level to the lowest. She not only saved me 10 days in jail, 75 days house arrest and 60 hours of community service but also saved me what could have been thousands of dollars I would have had to pay to the courts. If you are looking at this to see if you should hire Caroline.......don't hesitate and do it. She is worth every penny! Her communication is awesome!! (Shout out to her asst. Donna!) She sends every letter in a PDF for you to have a copy of and with every single thing she does she will let you know what is going on the entire time. It's amazing and I literally can't thank her enough for how much she saved me but also what effort she put into my (simple) case. Thanks, Caroline!!!!!

Anonymous Read more

“We cannot leave this spot till we acknowledge this was a miracle” (Pulp Fiction)

From the beginning being faced with so many challenges ... Charges that included highly probable incarceration... With such serious life-altering events looming. Caroline Donato from beginning to the end of my case with results in my favor with terms I was totally comfortable with!!!!!! Professional delivery and high aptitude of knowledge precede her. In a random consult, she would recite word for word certain terms/rules of law from the (Law) book ... So impressive!!!!! Professional and timely support staff behind the scenes created a comfortable environment in obviously an uncomfortable situation. Caroline Donato emulates the true flawless delivery of the facts to bring true solid reputable representation to any case big or small... I recommend your search for a lawyer be over and recommend Caroline Donato.

Anonymous Read more

Beyond Thankful For Her Work

I was wrongfully accused of four crimes in which I clearly did not commit. Caroline not only saw to it that I was proven innocent, but she was always available to answer any and all questions that my family and I had pertaining to my case. To say that we are thankful for her services would be an understatement. A five-star review doesn't do her justice.

Brian Read more

If I could rate Caroline 6 stars, I would

This was my first offense and my first time dealing with the Chester County penal system. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck. Caroline was extremely professional and courteous; armed with extensive knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the local laws and court system, she was able to navigate me through the process and put my mind at ease. She genuinely cares about the wellbeing of her clients and will go above and beyond to make sure you're taken care of. It was a pleasure to work with her - if I ever need an attorney in the future, she'll be the first person I call.

Michael Read more


Recently, I was represented by a shining star of the legal profession. Her name is Caroline Donato and she works for the firm of MacElree Harvey. In her presentation of my case, she took a voluminous case and wrote a brief that was clear and concise. During her presentation before the Commonwealth Court of PA, which was supposed to be 10 minutes, the judges were attentive and asked poignant questions. She never stumbled and had total command of the facts. They allowed her a generous amount of time to present her brief and in addition gave her more than ample time to rebut the opposition. Her courtroom presence I would describe as humbly respectful of the judges and confident in her case. Her confidence level was high because of the dedication she applied to the preparation of my case. The judges were in return respectful and receptive to her pleadings. This youthful legal eagle has the important attributes that make a great litigator. MacElree Harvey should be extremely grateful that she is part of their firm.

Anonymous Read more

Thank You Caroline!

Caroline was absolutely awesome to work with. I had been quite nervous being in the situation that I was in, but her calm empathetic demeanor made me feel comfortable and the outcome of my case exceeded my expectations. I am so grateful for her service and would highly recommend her!

Ally Read more

Someone you can rely and Trust with your life

Caroline helped me out with a dire situation, without going into too much detail Caroline won me the case with her very high-level skill set that she brings as lawyer, these skills are but not limited to, her attentiveness during trials, her competitive attitude, genuine care for client and of course her very clear clean and well organized notes that she brings with her everywhere, on top of all this she always responds in a timely manner although she prefers emails for documentation purposes she will text and keep in touch with client at all times to make the trial process seem very seamless and make an already stressful situation as simple as possible! I highly recommend her to anyone whos looking to find a reliable trustworthy compassionate and strong lawyer who will not back down from any challenge and always has a plan of action in the very unpredictable legal world of our judicial system!

Rohit Read more


  • Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, Master of Laws – LLM, Trial Advocacy (2019-2020) with Honors
  • Widener University School of Law (2011-2014)
  • University of Pittsburgh, Politics & Philosophy (2007-2011)


  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Supreme Court of the United States


MLT-Top-Lawyer-Logo-2020-1 - Silver & Silver

Rising Stars 2019Caroline-Donato-Selected-Rising-Star-2018

Top-Lawyer-2019-MLT Top Lawyers 2018-MLTMLT-Top-Lawyer-logo 2017MLT Top Lawyer 2016MLT Top Lawyer 2015

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