Q1. what type of evidence is needed in california to obtain a civil harassement restraining order
The courts make those determinations on a case-by-case basis, so the goal is to present as much information as possible to show that the violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence actually occurred, and that they have placed the victim in danger or caused him/her to have a reasonable fear of serious harm or continued harassment.
Besides the victim's own testimony, the evidence presented may include any admission by the abuser, the testimony of eye-witnesses or others who have personal knowledge of what occurred because they heard or saw what happened or saw the effects of what happened (e.g. cries, bruises), any audio/video recording of the incident, photographs of the incident or after effects (e.g. bruises, damaged property), medical records if treatment was sought, criminal records if charges were filed, and any evidence of a past history of acts or threats of violence toward the victim (including any criminal record). The more information the victim has that can support the fact that the abuse or harassment occurred and is likely to occur again the better.
Q2. and how much should an attorney charge?
That too is determined on a case by case basis by the attorney. Factors taken into consideration include the attorney's skill and experience, and availability, the complexity of the case and whether or not it is contested, and how much time will be required to work on the case, including the number of witnesses who will need to be questions, how many documents will have to be reviewed, and how many court appearances will have to be attended. In a moderately contested case, you may be looking at $2500. But it is always a good idea to shop around.
Q3. Do I need to be in court?
The victim does have to appear, since he/she is making the allegations and also because the accused has a right to respond to those allegations, to question the person making the allegations as well as review evidence submitted and cross-examine any witnesses that are called. However, if the victim is particularly afraid, the court can be notified in advance about those concerns. Often, courts will provide extra security and escort to and from the courthouse in those cases where serious violence is alleged and/or is likely to occur, such as when the abuser is particularly hostile and has a history of violence.
You can find forms and more detailed information about the process in the Civil Harssment section of the California Self Help website. I have provided a link to it here for your review: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1044.htm