List of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit charactersAssistant District Attorney Dominick "Sonny" Carisi Jr. is introduced in the season 16 premiere, "Girls Disappeared". He originally serves as Detective Amaro's temporary replacement when Amaro is reassigned to Queens. In the fifth episode of season 16, it is revealed he has permanently joined the Manhattan SVU team.
Carisi is an inexperienced detective who transfers to the Manhattan Special Victims Unit as Detective Nick Amaro's (Danny Pino) temporary replacement when Amaro is reassigned to Queens. He began his law enforcement career as a patrol officer in the Bronx. After getting his detective's shield, he did some time in Vice and then did short stints in the Special Victims Units in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island before transferring to Manhattan SVU.
Carisi and his three sisters grew up "off Arden Avenue" in Staten Island, where their parents still reside; in real-life, it is located within one of the few remaining New York City districts with a significant population of Italian-Americans. He comes from a tight-knit family and has spoken fondly of his parents, sisters and various relatives. A fourth-generation Italian-American, his great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from Turin as a boy. He was raised and still is a practicing Roman Catholic; two of his cousins are in the priesthood and he had aspired to do so as a child.
Carisi gets off to a rough start with his new colleagues in the sixteenth season premiere episode "Girls Disappeared", coming off as blunt and insensitive during his initial meeting with Sergeant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish). He is nonetheless a talented detective with a knack for interrogations, getting suspects to talk by playing "good cop". He also eventually wins his colleagues' respect and friendship.
Unlike his older, more seasoned colleagues, he has difficulty keeping his emotions in check when confronted by the horrific crimes he sees, especially those involving religious leaders or the perpetrator abusing another family member. He is particularly upset by a case in which prominent dentist Neil Alexander (Paul Adelstein) rapes his own niece; while taking Alexander's fingerprints, Carisi loses his temper and nearly breaks Alexander's hand.
In the fifth episode, Carisi helps turn one suspect against another during the investigation of a porn star's rape, earning him praise from Benson. Throughout season 16, he mentions that he is going to night classes at Fordham University's law school. A running joke has Carisi annoying Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) with unsolicited advice on how to prosecute cases. Barba eventually allows Carisi to shadow him for a trial, with Carisi helping Barba spot a key inconsistency in a witness' testimony. Some months later, Carisi reveals that he has recently taken the bar exam and thanks Barba for the earlier opportunity. The season 17 episode "Intersecting Lives" reveals that Carisi has passed the exam. At the end of the season finale "Heartfelt Passages", he serves as a pallbearer for Sgt. Mike Dodds (Andy Karl) after the latter is killed by a corrupt corrections officer in a hostage situation. Carisi had considered applying for a ADA position but decides to stay since the SVU will be a detective down following Dodds' death.
In "Parole Violations", his sister Bella's (Marin Ireland) fiancé Tommy (Michael Chernus) reports that his female parole officer raped him at gunpoint in her office. While he dislikes Tommy, Carisi comes to believe his story and works to make sure that the woman is brought to justice.
In "Next Chapter", he is held at gunpoint and nearly killed by a rape suspect, former police Sgt. Tom Cole (Chris Bauer). Benson saves him by shooting Cole in the back of the head, killing him.
In "In Loco Parentis", Carisi's niece Mia (Ryann Shane) says she was raped by a classmate, Ethan (Sam Vartholomeos), at a college party, but later admits it was consensual. However, Ethan rapes her for real in her room after she invites him over to apologize. Carisi takes the stand in Ethan's trial and admits what Mia told him. ADA Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) gets Ethan to confess to the rape, for which he is sentenced to seven years in prison. Carisi helps Mia move out of her dorm and tells her that she was not at fault for what happened to her.
In "Sunk Cost Fallacy", while driving a victim, Jules Hunter (Sarah Wilson), to her house, Carisi's car is hit by a car ignoring a stop sign; the driver flees the scene, with the car being reported as stolen two days prior. Carisi is injured, and Jules is killed. It is implied that their car was hit by Jules' abusive husband, Nick (Scott Porter).
In the season 21 premiere, "I'm Going to Make You a Star", Carisi leaves the NYPD to become an assistant district attorney. His new role finds him caught in the middle of conflicts between his former colleagues at SVU and his new boss, Vanessa Hadid (Zuleikha Robinson), at the district attorney's office. However, his former colleagues still consider him a friend despite professional differences and Benson attended his first trial as a ADA to provide moral support. Of the detectives who joined the SVU after his resignation, he gets along best with Velasco and they play basketball together regularly.
During "She Paints For Vengeance", he is assigned his first case as a full-fledged ADA when a young stripper/aspiring artist (Tonya Glanz) is raped by a former athlete. Carisi initially has trouble defending her and nearly resigns, but chooses to stay on the case after encouragement from Benson. The next day, he handles his job more professionally by getting the rapist to show his aggressive nature, resulting in a conviction.
Carisi marries former fellow SVU detective Amanda Rollins. She initially views him unfavorably when he first transfers to the SVU. By season 20, they develop a close friendship and he is named godfather to her second daughter Billie in the season 21 episode "The Burden Of Our Choices". In the season 22 finale, Carisi and Rollins kiss. In the season 23 premiere, “And the Empire Strikes Back”, it is revealed that he and Rollins are dating. In the season 24 episode "And A Trauma In A Pear Tree", they marry in a civil ceremony presided by Judge McNamara and with Benson, Fin and Velasco standing as witnesses.
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