Rafael Barba
Name Rafael Barba
Title Assistant District Attorney
Affiliation Manhattan District Attorney's Office (2012-2018)
Kings County District Attorney's Office (former)
Division Sex Crimes Bureau
Precinct 16th Precinct
Occupation Attorney
Family Lucia Barba (mother)
Unnamed father (deceased)
Catalina Diaz (maternal grandmother; deceased)
Status Alive (resigned)
Actor Raúl Esparza
First Appearance "Twenty-Five Acts"
Last Appearance "Redemption In Her Corner"

Rafael Barba is the former Cuban-American ADA assigned to the Sex Crimes Bureau. He replaced Cabot, Novak, Haden, and Cutter in the ADA role for Season 14 and was promoted to the main cast for Season 15.

Barba is a by-the-book, no-nonsense ADA who requested a lateral transfer from Brooklyn to Manhattan shortly after the events of the Bart Ganzel/Delia Wilson case. (SVU: "Rhodium Nights", "Lost Reputation", "Above Suspicion")

Barba will put pressure on whomever he needs to win the case, whether it is the victim or the arresting officers. 

It is revealed that Barba grew up in the Bronx, and gained a scholarship to Harvard University, where he studied law.

He resigned from his job in "The Undiscovered Country" after being too traumatized by a case involving an infant with MDDS.

Early Life

When visiting Manor Hill Academy in Lessons Learned, it is revealed he went to a Catholic high school.

In Funny Valentine he states that he was madly in love with a girl named Lauren Sullivan in the eleventh grade.

In October Surprise, he reveals to Benson that he grew up with Alex Muñoz, Eddie Garcia (and possibly Yelina Muñoz) in the Bronx and that the three boys called themselves los tres mosqueteros de Jerome Avenue (the three musketeers of Jerome Avenue).

In this episode, the audience learns he gained a full scholarship to Harvard University.

He tells Benson at the end of the episode that growing up his mother told him to "stick close to Alex because he is going to be mayor of New York someday." She never said that about Rafael.

When talking to Nick Amaro in Padre Sandungeuro, he mentions that he had a difficult relationship with his father and that Barba Sr. has been dead for the past 15 years.

In December Solstice, it is mentioned that his mother works as the principal for a charter school. In the same episode his maternal 85-year-old grandmother, Catalina Diaz, dies in her apartment before he could move her to an assisted living facility. He feels responsible for her death.

Career at SVU

In Barba's first appearance in Twenty-Five Acts, Jocelyn Paley, author of a popular erotic novel of the same name is sexually assaulted twice by a television talk show host named Adam Cain. Captain Steven Harris recommends A.D.A Rafael Barba for the case. When going over the specifics of the case, Barba is meticulous and rational to the point that he upsets Paley. Benson explains to him that more compassion should be shown towards the victims. The case takes a turn for the worst when it is revealed that Paley's professor wrote the novel and the defense uses it to paint Paley as a well-crafted liar. Paley wants to drop the charges to protect her secret, but Barba informs her that the truth will come out anyway and that if she follows through he will charge her with perjury. Barba uses information gathered from one of Cain's other victims to trick Cain during the trial by having him put a belt around Barba's neck. After some taunting from Barba, Cain chokes him with the belt in open court, showing his violent streak in front of the jurors.

In 2018, Barba turns off the life support of an infant boy suffering from MDDS, a disease which left the child brain-dead and would have required machinery to keep him alive for the rest of his life. This results in Barba being indicted for murder, but he is later cleared of these charges. However, he is too traumatized by the case and resigns from his career as an A.D.A. after 21 years of working as a prosecutor. He later says farewell to Benson, who is both happy and saddened by the outcome. Barba is replaced by Peter Stone, who also tried him for murder.

Barba video chatted with Benson in Redemption In Her Corner, confirming that they are still in touch with each other.

Personal Life

It is hinted in October Surprise that Barba was once in a relationship with Yelina Muñoz, who is currently married to his former friend Alex Muñoz.


  • It appears that Barba enjoys skiing, as in Presumed Guilty it is mentioned that he goes to a ski resort in Gstaad, Switzerland for the Christmas holiday.
  • In Her Negotiation, he tells the squad that he spent his weekend on a yacht.
  • In a deleted scene in Manhattan Transfer, Barba stops watching an interrogation to go to the theater to watch Hamilton.
  • In Dance, Lies and Video Tape, Benson tells the artistic director of the National Dance Institute that Barba is a fan.


  • In the Season 17 premiere, he is still referred to an A.D.A. by his colleagues but the nameplate in his office lists him as the D.A. This is because the nameplates were changed for all A.D.As.
  • Though Harry Connick, Jr. briefly preceded him in a recurring role as David Haden, Raúl Esparza is the first man to play an A.D.A. as a member of the main cast of SVU.
  • He surpassed Casey Novak, as longest-serving A.D.A. in the Law & Order franchise in Season 19.


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