Executive producer Warren Leight revealed that the sixteenth season will follow the events of the previous season finale, with Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) "sent to the bowels of Queens to do traffic stops".Prior to the conclusion of the fifteenth season and hence Sergeant Olivia Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) fostering of baby Noah Porter, Raúl Esparza (Rafael Barba) revealed that, "Benson has a very big, life-changing event take place for her, which I think is gonna last for a while..might make some choices that are really gonna change her life." Peter Scanavino joined, originally in a recurring capacity, as Detective Dominick "Sonny" Carisi Jr., beginning with the season premiere episode "Girls Disappeared".Buchanan represents a student accused of raping a pornstar. Specifically, they are involved in a joint case involving child sex internet ring.Exley represents Tensley (portrayed by Stevie Lynn Jones), a young Hollywood celebrity in conflict with the law.Brian d'Arcy James stars as the top-level producer who gave Tensley a score.Scanavino previously appeared in the season fourteen episode "Monster's Legacy" as another character.Peter Gallagher joins this season, in a recurring capacity, as Deputy Chief William Dodds, the tough-as-nails head of all the Special Victims Units in New York City.Stacy Keach, Henry Simmons and Sandy Duncan also guest star.
Dana Wheeler-Nicholson also guest stars as Tensley's mother.Delaney Williams returns to SVU as Counselor John Buchanan in the episode, "Pornstar's Requiem". Hank Voight) take part in a crossover event between Chicago Fire, Chicago P. and SVU in the November episode "Chicago Crossover".